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Ex parte Integra Lifesciences Corp

Supreme Court of Alabama

August 24, 2018

Ex parte Integra LifeSciences Corporation
v.
Kitti Outlaw, MD, et al. PETITION FOR WRIT OF MANDAMUS In re: Tawni Brooks and Bobby Brooks

          Mobile Circuit Court, CV-16-901036

          MAIN, JUSTICE.

         Integra LifeSciences Corporation ("Integra") petitions this Court for a writ of mandamus directing the Mobile Circuit Court to grant its motion to dismiss all claims filed against it by Tawni Brooks and her husband, Bobby Brooks. We grant the petition in part and deny it in part.

         I. Facts and Procedural History

         On May 19, 2014, Brooks underwent a double mastectomy and breast-reconstruction procedure at Springhill Memorial Hospital ("Springhill") in Mobile. Brooks experienced complications following her surgery, and a subsequent surgery performed on March 4, 2015, revealed that those complications were potentially related to surgical mesh implanted in her body as part of the 2014 procedure.

         On March 1, 2016, Brooks requested a copy of her medical records from Springhill. On the form used to request the records from Springhill, Brooks explained that the reason for her records request was to determine "what kind of mesh" had been used in her procedure. Once Brooks received her records, she provided them to her attorney.

         On March 19, 2016, Brooks sued the doctor who performed the procedure and various fictitiously named defendants, including "the manufacturer of the mesh used in [Brooks]'s operation." Brooks asserted claims of medical negligence, wantonness, and fraud against her doctor and asserted a product-liability claim under the Alabama Extended Manufacturer's Liability Doctrine ("AEMLD") and a breach-of-warranty claim against the fictitiously named defendants responsible for the manufacture of the surgical mesh.[1] On January 31, 2017, Brooks amended her complaint to substitute Johnson & Johnson, Inc. ("Johnson"), and Ethicon, Inc. ("Ethicon"), as the defendants responsible for the manufacture of the surgical mesh used in her operation.

         On March 4, 2017, counsel for Johnson and Ethicon emailed Brooks's counsel to inform him that the medical records they had obtained established that his clients did not manufacture the surgical-mesh products used in Brooks's procedure. The medical records obtained by Johnson and Ethicon related to Brooks's May 19, 2014, procedure included a document titled the "nursing intraop record." The nursing intraop record specifically identified the two types of surgical mesh used during Brooks's May 19, 2014, procedure: "SurgiMend Primatrix," a surgical mesh identified in the report as manufactured by TEI Biosciences, Inc. ("TEI"), a company acquired by Integra in 2015[2]; and Atrium mesh, a mesh identified as manufactured by Atrium Medical Corporation ("Atrium"). Counsel for Ethicon and Johnson provided the nursing intraop record to Brooks.

         On March 16, 2017, Brooks voluntarily dismissed the claims against Johnson and Ethicon and filed her second amended complaint, substituting Integra and Atrium for the fictitiously named defendants alleged to have manufactured the surgical mesh.

         On May 11, 2017, Integra moved for a summary judgment as to the claims against it on the grounds that Brooks's claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations and that the second amended complaint did not relate back to the original complaint because, before filing her complaint, Brooks was provided a copy of the nursing intraop record that specifically identified SurgiMend as the surgical mesh used in her procedure. Integra supported its motion with an affidavit of Springhill's director of health-information management attesting that Brooks was provided with a copy of the nursing intraop record on March 1, 2016.

         Brooks responded to Integra's motion, contending that she had not been provided the nursing intraop record by Springhill and that she had not received that document until it was provided to her lawyer by Johnson and Ethicon's counsel on March 4, 2017. She argued that, after receiving the nursing intraop record, she promptly amended her complaint to substitute Integra for a fictitiously named defendant as the proper defendant manufacturer. Brooks attached her own affidavit to her response, stating that she had provided her attorney all the medical records that had been produced to her by Springhill. Brooks also attached an affidavit of her attorney, attesting that the nursing intraop record was not within the documents Brooks supplied to him.

         Integra responded that, even without the nursing intraop record, Brooks had in her possession a document specifically identifying SurgiMend as a type of mesh used in her procedure. It is undisputed that the records provided to Brooks by Springhill contained the surgeon's "operative report" detailing the May 19, 2014 surgical procedure. That report mentioned SurgiMend by name, stating, in part:

"Closure of the abdominal wall defect achieved with a Prolene mesh, as well as reinforced with SurgiMend, Bovine allograft overlay achieved with 0 Prolene interrupted running fashion."

         Integra argued that, with the knowledge of the specific trademarked brand-name of its surgical-mesh product, Brooks, through the exercise of due diligence, should have been able to identify Integra as its manufacturer.

         On March 15, 2018, the trial court entered an order denying Integra's motion for a summary ...


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