National Class Action Involving Pacemakers Certified Against Guidant

Defibrillators made by Guidant.May 14, 2009 - An Ontario judge has certified a national class-action suit against a company that makes heart pacemakers.

The action against Guidant Corp., which was purchased a few years ago by U.S.-based Boston Scientific, is on behalf of a class of 28,443 individuals for claims related to the products.

Guidant began a series of warnings or recalls in 2005 on a number of its pacemakers and defibrillator.

Law firms acting on behalf of the plaintiffs say Justice Maurice Cullity of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified the national class action in a decision released last Friday.

Among other things, the statement of claim alleges that Guidant was negligent in the design and manufacture of certain models of pacemakers.

It seeks damages on behalf of all people who have been implanted in Canada with a defective pacemaker, said a news release from Kim Orr Barristers and Lerners, the law firms representing the national plaintiff class.

At least 3,559 patients have had their pacemaker taken out, said the statement.

Lawyer James Newland said litigation in the United States resulted in a settlement of $240 million on behalf of about 8,000 patients.

"This is essentially a parallel proceeding for defibrillators and pacemakers," Newland said Thursday of the Canadian action.

"What's significant about this recently certified pacemaker class action is that the class is a class of over 28,000 people, which is to my knowledge the largest device class action ever certified in Canada."

Calls to the company were not returned late Thursday.

Newland said once a case has been certified, class members are notified, and then the defendants would be expected to file a statement of defense setting out their legal defenses to the claim.

"However, I guess the first step is the company has to decide whether they are going to seek leave to appeal this certification order," he said.