A Medical Device Daily

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Hennepin County sheriff's deputies visited a St. Paul crematorium on Tuesday morning to collect defibrillators and pacemakers in brown paper bags, sealing each with red evidence tape.

The newspaper reported that attorneys and technicians representing Guidant (Indianapolis) and Medtronic (Minneapolis) were present during the collection process, indicating that the devices collected represent evidence in liability cases filed against the two companies.

When plaintiffs' lawyers read about a St. Paul crematorium operator who had collected 54 defibrillators and pacemakers from local funeral homes, they subpoenaed him, asking for any devices made by Guidant and Medtronic. A news report about the collection, which was gathered by the owner of Cremation & Trade Services , first appeared in the Star Tribune in February.

“This is really about the preservation of evidence,“ Randy Hopper, an attorney with the Minneapolis law firm Zimmerman Reed, told the newspaper.

That evidence could be used to underline the under-reporting of problems with implantable devices, which has been made as a general allegation in these cases.

SonoSite (Bothell, Washington), which refers to itself as the leading developer of hand-carried ultrasound systems, reported that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, has granted its motion for summary judgment of invalidity against Neutrino Development , a patent holding company.

SonoSite said that, based on a ruling of invalidity, the court reversed its earlier finding that SonoSite infringed Neutrino's U.S. patent No. 6,221,021 (the '021 patent).

In the ruling issued on Tuesday, the court found that Neutrino improperly amended the '021 patent in violation of U.S. patent law to include a claim of a component being hand-held which was not in the original patent application. In a final judgment, the court declared the claims being asserted against SonoSite in the '021 patent are invalid, and vacated and set aside its earlier ruling on infringement, dismissing Neutrino's claims and causes of action “with prejudice.“

Neutrino filed its original complaint against SonoSite in U.S. District Court in Houston on July 24, 2001, alleging that SonoSite's hand-carried ultrasound products infringed the '021 patent, titled “Method and Apparatus for Penile Hemodynamic Stimulation, Monitoring and Drug Delivery Acceleration.“ The patent was filed on May 30, 1999, amended by the plaintiff in May 2000 and issued to Neutrino on April 21, 2001.

“This is a major victory for SonoSite and we are very pleased that the judge agreed with us that our products do not infringe Neutrino's patent,“ said Kevin Goodwin, SonoSite president and CEO. “We look forward to having the distraction of this unfounded lawsuit behind us and continuing to develop products that are changing medical practice by bringing the benefits of ultrasound visualization to the point of patient care.“

In other legalities, PainCare Holdings (Orlando, Florida), a provider pain-focused medical and surgical solutions and services, said it has “become aware“ of at least four class-action lawsuits filed against it and certain of its officers and directors (Medical Device Daily, March 22, 2006).

It said that while it has not been served with the complaints, it believes that the lawsuits lack merit and that it has engaged the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to present its defense.

PainCare operates a network of physician practices and ambulatory surgery centers, and through its Amphora subsidiary provides intraoperative monitoring and interpretation services; and through its Caperian subsidiary offers medical real estate and development services.