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Rayford v. Karl Storz Endoscopy-America, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Monroe Division

April 3, 2018

AUDREY RAYFORD, ET AL.
v.
KARL STORZ ENDOSCOPY-AMERICA, INC., ET AL.

          KAREN L. HAYES JUDGE

          RULING

          TERRY A. DOUGHTY MAG. JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Audrey and Darryl Rayford (“Plaintiffs”) brought this lawsuit contending that the use of a laparoscopic power morcellator during Plaintiff Audrey Rayford's hysterectomy could have potentially spread cancerous cells in her body.

         Pending before the Court is a Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. No. 63] filed by Defendants KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc., and KARL STORZ Endovision, Inc. (“Defendants”). Defendants move the Court to dismiss Plaintiffs' remaining claims under the LPLA for defect in design, inadequate warning, and express warranty, and Plaintiffs' non-LPLA claims for redhibition and loss of consortium. No. opposition has been filed on behalf of Plaintiffs. For the following reasons, the Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         I. FACTS

         On December 15, 2014, Plaintiff Audrey Rayford underwent laparoscopic hysterectomy surgery, performed by Dr. Tonya Sheppard at Monroe Surgical Hospital in Monroe, Louisiana. Following surgery, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer (leiomyosarcoma) based on pathological analysis of her uterine tissue. She has not experienced any spread or recurrence of cancer during the more than three years since her surgery.

         Plaintiffs allege that a KARL STORZ Rotocut G1 electromechanical morcellator was used during her hysterectomy. Morcellators are used to reduce the size of tissue within the body in order to extract the tissue laparoscopically via small incisions, thereby promoting the benefits of minimal invasive surgery. Defendants KARL STORZ Endoscopy-America, Inc., (“KSEA”) and KARL STORZ Endovision, Inc., (“KSE”) contend they did not design or manufacture the KARL STORZ Rotocut G1 power morecellator.

         Plaintiffs contend that Defendants failed to warn regarding the possibility that power morcellation during hysterectomy surgery could potentially lead to the dissemination of an undiagnosed cancer and that the KARL STORZ Rotocut G1 was defective in design. On August 17, 2016, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs' claim for manufacturing defect and Plaintiffs' “non-LPLA” claims for strict liability, breach of express and implied warranty, fraudulent misrepresentation, and punitive damages.

         Defendants have now moved for summary judgment as to Plaintiffs' remaining claims.

         II. LAW AND ANALYSIS

         A. Standard of Review

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), “[a] party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense--or the part of each claim or defense--on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The moving party bears the initial burden of informing the court of the basis for its motion by identifying portions of the record which highlight the absence of genuine issues of material fact. Topalian v. Ehrmann, 954 F.2d 1125, 1132 (5th Cir. 1992); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1) (“A party asserting that a fact cannot be . . . disputed must support the assertion by . . . citing to particular parts of materials in the record . . .). “fact is Amaterial” if proof of its existence or nonexistence would affect the outcome of the lawsuit under applicable law in the case. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). “dispute about a material fact is Agenuine” if the evidence is such that a reasonable fact finder could render a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.

         If the moving party can meet the initial burden, the burden then shifts to the nonmoving party to establish the existence of a genuine issue of material fact for trial. Norman v. Apache Corp., 19 F.3d 1017, 1023 (5th Cir. 1994). In evaluating the evidence tendered by the parties, the Court must accept the evidence of the non-movant as credible and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. However, “a party cannot defeat summary judgment with conclusory allegations, unsubstantiated assertions, or only a scintilla of evidence.” Turner v. Baylor Richardson Med. Ctr., 476 F.3d 337, 343 (5th Cir. 2007) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986)).

         In products liability actions under Louisiana law, the “plaintiff bears the burden of proving [the defendant's] fault, if any, and that the defendant's product caused her injuries, [and] all essential elements of her claim against the manufacturer, upon which she bears the burden of proof at trial.” Hebert, v. Miles Pharmaceuticals, 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 248, *3-4 (E.D. La. Jan. 13, 1994); see also Willett v. Baxter Int l, Inc.,929 F.2d 1094, 1100 (5th Cir. 1991). Rule 56 requires Plaintiff to come forward with sufficient evidence at the summary judgment stage to meet her burden of demonstrating facts to support the essential elements underlying each individual claim. Id. The moving party is not required to produce evidence to negate the existence of material facts when the non-moving party bears the burden of proof at trial. Broussard v. P&G ...


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