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Geesey v. Stryker Corp.

August 3, 2010

NATHAN GEESEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
STRYKER CORPORATION, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Slomsky, J.

OPINION

Before the Court is Defendants Stryker Corporation, Stryker Instruments, and Stryker Sales Corporation's Motion to Dismiss several Counts of Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Doc. No. 11).*fn1 On February 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion (Doc. No. 17). On February 24, 2010, Defendants filed a Reply in Support of the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 18), and on May 26, 2010, the Court held a hearing on the Motion. On June 7, 2010, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 25.)*fn2 For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss in part and will deny in part.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Nathan Geesey is a resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Compl. ¶ 1.) In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that he had shoulder surgery and that after surgery a pain pump manufactured by Defendants was inserted into his shoulder joint. A pain pump is a "medical device designed to deliver continuous doses of pain relief medication directly into the shoulder joint space via catheter." (Compl. ¶ 11.) Plaintiff maintains that anesthetic medication released by the pain pump caused him to develop in his shoulder arthritis and/or chondroylsis, which is a complete, or nearly complete loss of all cartilage. (Compl. ¶ 12.) Due to the allegedly faulty device, Plaintiff has undergone additional shoulder surgery. To obtain full relief, Plaintiff asserts that he needs a complete shoulder replacement. (Compl. ¶ 14.)

Defendants designed, manufactured, marketed and sold the pain pump inserted into Plaintiff's shoulder. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Defendants are corporations organized under the laws of Michigan and have principal places of business in Michigan. (Compl. ¶ 4.) This case is brought in federal court under diversity of citizenship jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

In the First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 2), Plaintiff made the following claims: Count I (Fraudulent Concealment); Count II (Strict Liability); Count III (Breach of Implied Warranty of Merchantability); Count IV (Breach of Implied Warranty of Fitness For a Particular Purpose); Count V (Negligent Failure to Warn); Count VI (Negligence); Count VII (Negligent Misrepresentation); Count VIII (Breach of Express Warranty); and Count IX (Fraud).

In the Motion presently before the Court, Defendants move to dismiss Counts I, II, III, IV, VIII, and IX. Defendants do not move to dismiss Plaintiff's claims rooted in negligence (Counts V, VI, and VII). In Plaintiff's Response in Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 17), Plaintiff voluntarily withdrew his warranty claims, contained in Counts III, IV, and VIII. (Pl. Resp. 7.)*fn3

Consequently, the only causes of action covered by the Motion to Dismiss are Plaintiff's fraudulent concealment and fraud claims (Counts I and IX) and the strict liability claim (Count II). For the reasons stated below, the Court will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the strict liability claim and will deny Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the fraud and fraudulent concealment claims.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Court has jurisdiction over this case pursuant to diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Here, Defendants have moved to dismiss certain counts for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). The Motion to Dismiss standard has undergone recent transformation, culminating with the Supreme Court's Opinion in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009). After Iqbal it is clear that "threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements do not suffice" in defeating a Motion to Dismiss. Id. at 1949; see also Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007).

Applying the principles of Iqbal, the Third Circuit in Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203 (3d Cir. 2009), articulated a two-part analysis that district courts in this Circuit must conduct in evaluating whether allegations in a complaint survive a Motion to Dismiss. First, the factual and legal elements of a claim should be separated, meaning "a District Court must accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded facts as true, but may disregard any legal conclusions." Id. at 210-11. Second, the Court must determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint demonstrate that the plaintiff has a "plausible claim for relief." Id. at 211. In other words, a complaint must do more than allege a plaintiff's entitlement to relief, it must "show" such an entitlement with its facts. Id. (citing Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234-35 (3d Cir. 2008)). "Where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged--but it has not 'shown' -- 'that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. This "plausibility" determination under step two of the analysis is a "context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Count II: Strict Liability

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted § 402A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts as setting forth the law of strict product liability in Pennsylvania. Webb v. Zern, 220 A.2d 853, 854 (1966); Mazur v. Merck & Co., 964 F.2d 1348, ...


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