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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Penis-Pump Maker May Be Liable for ‘Blowout’

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A Pennsylvania man can advance claims that his surgically implanted, inflatable penis prosthesis malfunctioned repeatedly, a federal judge ruled.

Eric Banks says a doctor at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia outfitted him with a Coloplast inflatable penile prosthesis in December 2007 to treat his erectile dysfunction.

But the device would not deflate properly, and a representative for the Danish manufacturer allegedly told him that the pump was defective. Banks underwent a second surgery to replace that component, according to a July 2010 lawsuit.

Shortly thereafter, however, the new pump tore in what court records describe as a "blowout" and would no longer inflate.

A Coloplast rep allegedly recommended that Banks replace the entire unit, but Banks says he opted for a device made by another company.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe ruled last week that Banks can proceed with his strict liability claim against Coloplast, even though the implant at issue is missing.

Coloplast wanted the case tossed, citing its inability to inspect the implant for defects.

But Rufe refused to grant summary judgment on strict liability because Banks offered circumstantial evidence to support his claim that the prosthesis was faulty, the judge found.

That evidence includes "the malfunction of the product, the timing of the malfunction, and the elimination of certain other possible causes," the 11-page opinion states.

Rufe did, however, toss Banks' negligence claim that Coloplast deviated from its industry's standard of care.

Though that standard often relies on expert testimony, Banks did not file an expert report, Rufe noted.

"The penile prosthetic industry's standard of care is beyond the knowledge and experience of a lay juror," she wrote.

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