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Coleman v. DePuy Synthes Sales, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

April 17, 2018

HANNAH ELIZABETH COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUY SYNTHES SALES, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          JEFFERY S. FRENSLEY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction and Background[1]

         This matter is before the Court upon a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendant, DePuy Synthes Sales, Inc. (“Synthes”).[2] Docket No. 48. Synthes has also filed a Supporting Memorandum of Law. Docket No. 48-1. The Plaintiff, Hannah Coleman, has filed a Response in Opposition. Docket No. 52. Synthes has filed a Reply. Docket No. 56. For the following reasons, Synthes's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

         This products liability action arises from the implantation of a piece of titanium mesh manufactured by Synthes into Ms. Coleman's chest in 2012, in an attempt to repair pectus excavatum, a congenital deformity of the anterior chest wall. The surgery was performed by Leonard J. Wudel, M.D., and Robert F. Garza, M.D. In 2014, Ms. Coleman began to experience chest pain, and was seen by Dr. Garza, who ordered a chest CT. On the CT image, an area of mesh had an “accordion” appearance. Dr. Garza agreed with Ms. Coleman that the mesh had become symptomatic and should be removed, and that surgery was performed by Dr. Garza. When Ms. Garza's chest was reopened, Dr. Garza found the mesh to be intact except for a small area at an edge where the mesh had overlapped on itself. After the second surgery, Ms. Coleman felt that her symptoms had mostly resolved.

         Ms. Coleman contends that the mesh manufactured by Synthes was defective and caused severe complications which would not have occurred in the absence of negligent or defective design, manufacture, or inspection; and that the mesh was not reasonably suited to the uses intended and reasonably anticipated at the time it left their control. Docket No. 1-1. Ms. Coleman asserts that Synthes is liable under various theories of products liability. Id. at 24-27. Synthes denies Ms. Coleman's allegations and has moved for summary judgment on all claims.

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Motions for Summary Judgment

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a), summary judgment is appropriate only “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 party bringing the motion has the burden of informing the Court of the basis for its motion and identifying portions of the record that demonstrate the absence of a genuine dispute of material facts. Rodgers v. Banks, 344 F.3d 587, 595 (6th Cir. 2003). The moving party may satisfy this burden by presenting affirmative evidence that negates an element of the nonmoving party's claim or by demonstrating an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case. Id. A dispute is “genuine” only if “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505 (1986).

         In deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must review all the evidence, facts, and inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Electric Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348 (1986); Van Gorder v. Grand Trunk Western Railroad, Inc., 509 F.3d 265, 268 (6th Cir. 2007). The Court does not weigh the evidence, judge the credibility of witnesses, or determine the truth of the matter. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 249. The Court determines whether sufficient evidence has been presented to make the issue of fact a proper jury question. Id. The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the nonmoving party's position will be insufficient to allow the nonmoving party's claims to survive summary judgment; rather, the nonmoving party must convince the Court that there is sufficient evidence for a juror to return a verdict in its favor. Id.

         The Court has reviewed the Parties' Statements of Undisputed Material Facts, as well as the Responses and Reply thereto. Docket Nos. 48-2, 52-1, 52-2, 56-1, 56-2. The Court has determined that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. The inquiry thus turns to whether Synthes is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

         B. Rule 7 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

         As an initial matter, Ms. Coleman argues that Synthes's Motion must be denied because it fails to comply with “the applicable federal rules of civil procedure, ” specifically, Rule 7(b). Docket No. 52, p. 5. Rule 7(b), which governs the form of motions and other papers, provides:

(1) In General. A request for a court order must be made by motion. The ...

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