A Tennessee federal court granted an early win to Zoll Medical Corp. over a woman’s claims that its defibrillator vest failed to save her husband’s life after a faulty refurbishment, saying she failed to bring in an expert to help prove the product was unreasonably dangerous.
U.S. District Judge S. Thomas Anderson said it would be impossible for a reasonable jury to determine if the “complex medical device,” known as the LifeVest, was poorly manufactured or designed without some expert testimony.
Smith’s husband had been issued the vest, which was refurbished, to treat arrhythmia in his heart by detecting such an event — setting off an auditory alarm and delivering electric shocks to get his heartbeat back into the proper rhythm.
But in March 2019, when such an event occurred, the vest failed to perform, issuing no alarm or shocks, and Smith’s husband died, which claims an inspection showed the battery was not properly connected. Smith alleges Zoll performed an incomplete refurbishment to rush the device back to market.
Zoll filed a motion to end the case in October, citing the lack of an expert witness supporting Smith’s claims. Judge Anderson agreed, saying the deadline to submit supporting materials was Sept. 30.
Smith’s lawsuit previously survived Zoll’s motion to dismiss in December 2020, when the company failed to convince Judge Anderson that her state tort claims must be ended because the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act preempted her claims.
But since then, Smith’s legal team, attorneys with Morgan & Morgan, withdrew from the case in June due to “irreconcilable differences.”
As such, Smith was pro se at the time of summary judgment.