Saturday, February 21, 2009


Medtronic Sues Aquarium Manufacturer for Faulty Wiring

As most of you Liliputs will know, Medtronic is the company that earned fame--or whatever--for its success in the Riegel case involving device preemption. That case involved a balloon catheter Medtronic manufactures. Meanwhile, Medtronic is dealing with a number of other suits charging faulty wiring in the pacemakers they manufacture. Presumably, in those cases, too, the company is likely to be shielded by FDA preemption.

It is with some irony, therefore, that we learn that Medtronic has filed suit against Petco for manufacting aquaria that themselves have alleged faulty wiring. As reported, the problem is not that the resident fish will die as a result. Indeed, it appears there were no fish in the aquarium at the time. It is rather that alleged faulty wiring caused a fire that, in turn, caused the sprinkler system to go off. A squishy mess ensued (so to speak).

Here is the report:

As far as we know, aquaria are not pre-approved by FDA and thus do not have to go through the exacting and agonizing process in which FDA provides its optimal scientific weighing and measuring of risks and benefits. Nor do we assume that lay juries are capable of swimming their way into the complexity of aquaria. After all, all liquids have dangers. Particularly, if you are not a fish.

Meanwhile, at the corporate headquaters, we hope that nothing else was short-circuited. Especially integrity.


  1. They are also suing on the basis that Petco failed to warn of the faulty wiring.

    There is no C in aquarium.

  2. Thanks, Marilyn. I agree - there was no sea in the aquarium.

  3. This looks like an open and shut case. The fire chief said, " wasn't used as an aquarium... It was used as part of some experiment."

    If Medtronic used the product in a manner that was not intended by Petco, and such misuse was not reasonably foreseeable by Petco, then the court may decide that Petco cannot be held liable for damages caused by Medtronic's own defective (overactive) sprinkler system.

  4. Counselor - A brilliant argument. This was, indeed, an "off-label" use of the aquarium. Now, no law says that corporations cannot use aquaria as they please. On the other hand, this "experiment" (a little ominous sounding) will probably need to be investigated.

    Up to now, there is no evidence that the aquaria were intended to be implanted into people's chests. But we are swimming in the dark here.

    My time is up.

  5. This goes back to Marilyn's comment above, "They are also suing on the basis that Petco failed to warn of the faulty wiring."

    So does this suggest that Medtronic believes that Petco _knew_ the wiring was a problem. And that they--hard to imagine--covered it up?

    And what might that have to do with the little electric experiment going on upstairs?

    Do you suppose Petco and Medtronic buy their wiring from the same electric supply company?

    The plot thickens.....

  6. One piece of good news....We can actually call this one "Watergate."

  7. Happily, Medtronic did not have to research the wording for their lawsuit against Petco. They had read it all before, many times, i.e., "The defendant negligently failed to provide Plaintiffs with reasonable warnings of defects and hazards which it knew or should have known were present…” Also, it is of great relief to know that the little fishies were not home when the incident occurred. Presumably they had swam and swam over the dam. However, what needs to be investigated is who/what was in residence and why. With eyes shut and ears covered, can anyone tell me what “experiment” was going on?

    Perhaps a little fishie had stayed behind tied to a heart catheter that shorted out, thus causing the meltdown. Could Medtronic be preempting itself?

    Reference: Medtronic's latest legal foe: Petco -


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