I am writing to report about a recent dismissal of a manufacturing defect claim made against a medical device manufacturer in the USDC for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This decision is favorable to our clients that are involved in defending medical devices. We believe this case may dissuade plaintiffs from filing cases against medical device manufacturers in Pennsylvania in the future, at least in federal court.
It has been a long-standing principle in Pennsylvania that the doctrine of strict products liability does not apply in cases involving prescription drugs. This principle was recently affirmed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in the case of Lance v. Wyeth, 15 A3d 434 (PA 2014), which was decided earlier this year. As was stated in Lance, for policy reasons strict products liability claims are barred against manufacturers of prescription drugs under Pennsylvania law. However, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has yet to rule whether this ban also applied to prescription medical devices. Before the decision in Lance was made earlier this year, the federal courts in Pennsylvania had ruled that manufacturing defect claims were permissible in cases involving prescription medical devices.