A growing number of product liability lawsuits have been filed by individuals who experienced complications following robotic surgery with the da Vinci Surgical System.

Last week, a motion was filed in federal court to consolidate all cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. If granted, the cases would be centralized a manner similar to how a da Vinci robotic surgery class action lawsuit would be handled during pretrial proceedings. However, there are important differences between a class action and an MDL.

UPDATE 8/3/2012: Today the request to centralize the da Vinci litigation as part of an MDL was denied. This means that all cases filed in the federal court system will continue to proceed individually. However, the panel has suggested that informal coordination should provide the same efficiencies.

At this time, at least four complaints have been filed over problems with the da Vinci Surgical System, but it is expected that hundreds of lawsuits will ultimately be filed against Intuitive Surgical by individuals who experienced internal burns, tears and other complications following robotic surgery.

Robotic Surgery Injury Lawyers

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All of the complaints involve similar allegations that Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of da Vinci robot, aggressively promoted the complex machine as a superior alternative to traditional surgery, without providing adequate warnings about the risk of problems caused by design defects that may allow the electric current from the robotic arms may pass outside of the operative field, causing damage to ureters, arteries, blood vessels, the bowel, bladder, vaginal cuff or other organs and tissue.

In a motion filed on May 9, plaintiffs have asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer all currently pending federal lawsuits, as well as any future complaints, to one judge for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings. This would allow the parties to coordinate the litigation in a manner similar to a class action lawsuit, reducing duplicative discovery and conflicting rulings in different cases proceeding across the country.

The formation of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, is common in complex litigation involving a large number of people who suffered similar injuries from a defective product. While many people would consider such proceedings to be the same as a da Vinci surgery class action, there are important differences between an MDL and class action.

Unlike a class action, where damages are determined through a class representative, each lawsuit will remain an individual claim if the da Vinci robotic surgery MDL is formed. Given the unique circumstances surrounding each case and different injuries from the da Vinci Surgical System, each case must be ultimately considered independently. However, there are many common factual and legal matters during pretrial proceedings, where the cases may benefit from coordinated and consolidated proceedings.

Following MDL proceedings, if a settlement agreement is not reached in each of the robotic surgery lawsuits, claims may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where they was originally filed for an individual jury trial.

Intuitive Surgical has not yet responded to the motion filed to consolidate the federal da Vinci robotic surgery litigation, so it is unknown whether they will support the centralized management of the cases.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will likely schedule oral arguments on the motion for hearing set for July 26, 2012, which will be held at the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio. If it is determined that the da Vinci lawsuits should be centralized in an MDL, the panel will determine what is the most appropriate venue for the litigation.


The robotic surgery lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are reviewing potential individual injury claims and class action lawsuits for individuals who experienced complications following a da Vinci Surgical procedure, such as:

  • Burns or Tears
  • Ruptures or Dehincenses, which allow organ contents to leak out
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Additional Surgery
  • Death

To review a potential claim for yourself, a friend or family member, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.