SACRAMENTO — A Johnson & Johnson-owned company will face another lawsuit over a defective surgical implant device used to assist in the repair of broken bones after a man has amended his lawsuit, naming the company as the defendant responsible for his injuries nearly three years after the lawsuit began. 

The lawsuit seeks damages over $70,000 from medical device manufacturer DePuy Synthes.

Julie Griffiths of the organization California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse noted a recent rise in lawsuits against medical manufacturers, often without standing. 

“We at Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse have noticed an increase in medical liability cases that appear to lack sufficient standing and appear to be filed against perceived 'deep pockets' in hopes of a large payout,” Griffiths said. 

Michael McGuire, a California resident, originally filed his 2015 complaint alleging unsafe road conditions, negligence, malpractice of the doctors who treated him, and product liability for a tibial plate breaking after it was implanted to secure fractured bones from a 2013 car accident. 

McGuire’s lawsuit was dismissed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in January for failure to state a claim. McGuire had named the defendant only as “Doe 1” originally. Judge Morrison England stated in the court order to dismiss, “Doe 1 is named as a Defendant to each of the factually distinct causes of action, Synthes not surprisingly claims it has no idea what claims are being asserted against it.”   

Although he eventually added Synthes as a defendant, in the dismissal England said “Plaintiff’s (first amended complaint) nowhere mentions Synthes, who was added in the place of Defendant Doe 1 well over a year after Plaintiff’s lawsuit was initially instituted” and noted that “Initially the only named defendants were the health care providers, Northbay Medical Center and its affiliates.”

In February, McGuire filed his second amended complaint alleging he is “ignorant” of the names of some defendants when he first filed his negligence suit. McGuire’s second amended complaint says he will correct names as they are discovered and names Synthes as the manufacturer to blame for the surgical device. McGuire claims that the surgical implant, known as Synthes Distal Tibial Anterolateral Locking Plate, broke after being implanted inside his body. The court granted McGuire the opportunity to amend his complaint.

Griffiths says that the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, a nonpartisan grassroots movement, is “also quite disturbed by the advertising that seems to surround these lawsuits.” The group's website notes that trial lawsuit advertising is largely unregulated, an industry that can garner $75 million each month, and can lure people into suing companies instead of seeking and focusing on getting the medical treatment they might need. 

McGuire’s second amended complaint states that when he needed more surgeries, his doctors claimed that the surgical plate device failed and broke inside of his body, leading to the need for more treatment, “serious and irreparable injuries.”  No response from the court has been recorded, but Griffiths and the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse are watching these cases closely. 

“We hope one day the laws can be changed to discourage suits of this nature,” Griffiths said. 

McGuire is represented by Thomas Ambrose of Fairfield

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