Woman drops lawsuit against Drobot hospital over "counterfeit'' spinal screws
SANTA ANA, Calif., April 13, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- An Orange County woman has dismissed her lawsuit against HealthSmart Pacific, former owner of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, after it was revealed that the spinal implants used in her surgery were not counterfeit, as she alleged in the wake of similar, highly publicized claims by a group of California plaintiff attorneys.
Elizabeth Montes filed a lawsuit in January 2015 in Orange County Superior Court against her surgeons and HealthSmart Pacific, claiming that her ongoing back pain was related to the use of counterfeit spinal implants. Montes' lawsuit came after widespread publicity from 2014 lawsuits led by three plaintiff law firms that alleged a vast conspiracy by a medical-device supplier using "counterfeit" spinal implants manufactured in a machine shop in Temecula.
Those allegations were aimed in part at Michael D. Drobot, a former executive with Pacific Hospital of Long Beach and medical-device supplier International Implants. Drobot had pleaded guilty in 2014 to paying physicians to schedule surgeries at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, but strongly denied ever acquiring or using counterfeit spinal implants.
"As I have said repeatedly, we did not buy or use implants that were not cleared by the FDA, and this case is an example of that,'' Drobot said. "The plaintiff attorneys behind this so-called conspiracy have frightened a lot of people who had surgery at PHLB, and panicked them for no valid reason. At no time did our company or Pacific Hospital of Long Beach use counterfeit medical devices.''
Montes, a former waitress who suffered back pain after an incident at work, underwent lumbar fusion surgery in October 2012. After some time, the pain returned and her surgeon recommended that she have a second surgery.
Six months after filing her lawsuit, Montes had surgery and the implants were removed from her spine.
Representatives of the manufacturer, Alphatec, identified the spinal implants as legitimate devices with FDA clearance.
"These devices clearly were not counterfeit,'' said Susan Garbutt, an attorney with Brobeck, West, Borges, Rosa and Douville in Newport Beach, counsel for HealthSmart Pacific. "When Ms. Montes' attorney realized the implants were legitimate, he immediately dismissed the case.''
HealthSmart faced 32 similar cases in Los Angeles. A state court last year, based on challenges filed by HealthSmart's counsel, dismissed conspiracy claims in 30 of those cases, finding that none of the surgeries cited in the complaints had occurred at Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Only two of those personal injury cases remain active.
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