State Supreme Court Reverses for Family of Patient Who Died After Complications from Da Vinci Robotic Surgical System

In this case, a manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical Inc., sold a surgical device, the robotic surgical system, to a hospital, Harrison Medical Center, which credentialed some of its physicians to perform surgery with the device. The surgical device is a robotic surgery tool called the “da Vinci System.”

At the trial, an expert urologist for Josette Taylor, the wife of Fred E. Taylor who died four years after undergoing a failed prostatectomy surgery by the robotic device, opined that the surgeons must be credentialed in order to use the da Vinci System. The doctor testified that the da Vinci robotic surgical system is one of the most complex devices used in surgical procedures.

The manufacturer’s warnings regarding that device were at the heart of this case: whether the manufacturer owed a duty to warn the hospital that purchased the device. The manufacturer argued that since it warned the physician who performed the surgery, it had no duty to warn any other party.

Josette Taylor brought this wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of her husband, Fred E. Taylor, who died after complications arose during the robotic surgery. The surgery turned from being laparoscopic to an open surgery after an organ was severed. Four years later, Fred Taylor died; it was asserted that his death occurred due to the negligence of the surgeon and the lack of warnings regarding the dangers of this robotic surgical device.

The Supreme Court disagreed because the doctor was often not the product purchaser. The hospital was the party that purchased the robotic surgical device for use in its hospital. The court found that the Washington Product Liability Act required manufacturers to warn purchasers, in this case the hospital,  about its dangerous medical devices.

“Hospitals need these warnings to credential the operating physicians and to provide optimal care for patients. In this case, the trial court did not instruct the jury that the manufacturer had a duty to warn the hospital that purchased the device. Consequently, we find that the trial court erred.”

Taylor v. Intuitive Surgical Inc., Washington Supreme Court Docket: 92210-1 (Feb. 9, 2017)

Kreisman Law Offices has been successfully handling medical device defect cases, Physiomesh lawsuits, pharmaceutical defect cases, hernia mesh lawsuits, medical malpractice cases and birth trauma and birth injury lawsuits for individuals and families who have been injured, harmed  or died because of the negligence of another for more than 40 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including Norwood Park, Oak Park, Palatine, Mundelein, Round Lake, St. Charles, Western Springs, Lockport, Lake Forest, Lisle, Geneva, Cicero, Schaumburg, Chicago (Gladstone Park, Edgewater, Cragin, Chrysler Village, Englewood, Gold Coast, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Kilbourn Park, Koreatown, Wrigleyville, Bronzeville), Lockport, Palos Park and Schiller Park, Ill.

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