Huggins v. Stryker Corp., 2013 WL 1191058 (D. Minn. March 25, 2013), is another opinion that puts the “pain” in “pain pump litigation.” It’s also another example of a court putting the cart before the horse, a theme raised in Eric’s post yesterday. The opinion addresses three motions: Plaintiff’s motion to transfer the case to Oregon, where he lived and received his medical treatment, Stryker’s motion for summary judgment, and Stryker’s motion to exclude expert testimony. While the analysis of the Plaintiff’s motion to transfer – which was denied – is a worthwhile read, we’re going to focus on the court’s analysis of the motion for summary judgment and the Daubert motion. And the court considered them in that order, in spite of the fact that the Plaintiff’s arguments in opposition to summary judgment relied on the very opinions that the Defendant was challenging in its Daubert motion. Eric pointed out that there’s an olfactory advantage to the passenger when the cart is put before the horse. Huggins demonstrates that regardless of where the cart is placed, the odor-causing substance is still produced.
Mr. Huggins had shoulder surgery in February 2002. He was diagnosed with chondrolysis (a rapid destruction of cartilage) in the same shoulder later in 2002, but he didn’t file suit until May 2009. Stryker moved for summary judgment on the statute. Plaintiff argued for application of the discovery rule to get his case within Minnesota’s six year statute, citing federal court decisions recognizing such a rule in Minnesota. Noting the holding in a 2008 case in which the Minnesota Supreme Court specifically declined to recognize a discovery rule – and reiterated that they had “consistently” declined to adopt such a rule – theHuggins opinion nonetheless relies on a 1968 opinion that “suggested” or“appeared to hold” that in products liability cases, the cause of action will not accrue until plaintiff has some evidence of causation. Id. at *9. The opinion then goes on to find that because the first article recognizing a possible causal link between pain pump use and chondrolysis was not published until 2007, and the FDA did not issue an alert on the possible link until 2009, a jury could reasonably find that plaintiff Huggins did not and could not know of the causal connection between his injury and the pain pump use “until well within six years of the time he filed.” Id. Motion denied. But remember those dates.