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Supreme Court looks at case involving Medtronic

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to consider whether Medtronic Inc. and other manufacturers of medical devices are shielded from product liability lawsuits by federal regulations.

The justices agreed to hear an appeal from a man who had a Medtronic-made catheter burst during an angioplasty, causing him permanent injury. Charles Riegel says he had to undergo emergency bypass surgery after the catheter burst and caused an immediate blockage during the procedure.

In this and other similar cases, lower courts have ruled that companies like Medtronic are shielded from such lawsuits. Courts have previously said that companies like Medtronic cannot change products once on the market without Food and Drug Administration's approval.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York noted that it is "almost impossible" for a device to stick to both FDA standards as well as jury verdicts.

The Fridley-based company defends itself in this case, stating that the catheter was inflated beyond restrictions by the physician. The catheter in question is no longer made by the company.

The coverage by the Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune was very similar although both went about the story in a slightly different manner. The Pioneer Press put a larger focus on the person involved in the appeal while the Star Tribune's story seemed a bit less personal and a little more professional.