A Medical Device Daily

Medtronic (Minneapolis) has lost its appeals court bid to revive a $51 million jury verdict against BrainLab (Munich, Germany) over image-guided surgical techniques.

Medtronic won the case at trial, In September, a Denver jury reaching a verdict saying that BrainLab had infringed four patents held or licensed by Medtronic, and determined that a reasonable royalty on BrainLab product sales in the U.S. amounted to $51 million.

A federal judge in February then ruled that BrainLab's image-guided surgery/radiotherapy products do not infringe any of the patents involved in the suit, determining that the evidence did not support a finding of infringement (Medical Device Daily, Feb. 28, 2006).

The U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that the judge was correct to say BrainLab didn't infringe on four Medtronic patents.

The dispute is over medical products that use acoustics to let surgeons track the precise location of instruments while they are in a patient's body during operations. Medtronic claimed that several BrainLab products infringed its patents.

BrainLab has U.S. headquarters in Westchester, Illinois.

In other legalities:

For the second time in the past nine months, St. Francis Hospital (Evanston, Illinois) has been cited for violations and fined by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The new citations stem from a July incident in which mercury was spilled.

OSHA faulted St. Francis, one of eight hospitals operated by Resurrection Health Care (Chicago), for its failed emergency response plan, inadequate training for employees and failure to notify workers of potential health hazards after the incident.

In findings issued Jan. 19, the hospital received six serious citations and was fined $25,000.

"Instead of taking steps to respond to the spill and prevent future incidents, administrators at St. Francis seemed to be trying to cover it up. Employees were very concerned," said Henry Bayer, executive director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 31. "We commend the workers who came forward as whistleblowers to alert OSHA in hopes of preventing future harm to patients or staff."

The AFSCME said that in May 2006 St. Francis received eight citations and nearly $10,000 in fines for failing to adequately train laundry employees exposed to hazardous materials. It said that the investigations were prompted by workers who filed OSHA complaints anonymously for fear of retaliation by Resurrection Health.