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Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District
October 7, 2020, Decided
[*150] Per Curiam.
The Plaintiff, Lisa Cavanaugh, as personal representative of the Estate of William Cavanaugh, appeals a final judgment entered upon a defense verdict in her wrongful death action against Stryker Corporation, a medical device manufacturer ("the manufacturer"). We affirm on all issues raised, addressing only a jury instruction dispute and a juror selection issue. On all other issues we affirm without discussion.
A. Evidence at Trial
In November 2012, Mr. Cavanaugh died while undergoing [**2] lung-removal surgery at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center ("the hospital"). The surgical team included a surgeon with the assistance of a registered nurse ("the nurse").
The manufacturer's medical device, called the Neptune 2, was used throughout the procedure in order to remove blood and clear the surgical field. The Neptune 2 is a high-flow suction device "intended to collect and dispose of surgical fluid waste." The device is not intended to be connected or used during passive chest drainage.
During Mr. Cavanaugh's surgery, the Neptune 2 was connected to suction tubing, which had what is called a Yankauer suction tip attached to it. When the operation was almost finished, the surgeon inserted a chest tube into Mr. Cavanaugh's chest. The chest tube should have been [*151] connected to an Atrium or Pleur-evac, which are devices for passive chest drainage. Instead, the nurse either touched or connected the Yankauer suction tip (and therefore the Neptune 2) to the chest tube, causing Mr. Cavanaugh's heart to be "sucked . . . over to the other side" of his chest. Mr. Cavanaugh unfortunately died from the immediate and severe blood loss.
Both the surgeon and the nurse testified that they thought [**3] standard wall suction was being used for the chest drainage. They both added that they were not aware that the Neptune 2 device was being used. The Plaintiff brought this wrongful death action against various defendants, including the manufacturer. The Plaintiff's original complaint asserted medical malpractice claims against the hospital and the nurse, but those claims were settled. The claims in the complaint against the manufacturer were for strict liability based on design defects (Count I), strict liability based on failure to warn (Count II), and negligence (Count III).
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308 So. 3d 149 *; 2020 Fla. App. LEXIS 14345 **; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P20,991; 45 Fla. L. Weekly D 2278; 2020 WL 5937405
LISA CAVANAUGH, as the Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF WILLIAM CAVANAUGH, deceased, Appellant, v. STRYKER CORPORATION, a foreign corporation, et al., Appellees.
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, St. Lucie County; George A. Shahood, Senior Judge, and William L. Roby, Judge; L.T. Case No. 562013CA001800 (ME).
juror, manufacturer, consumer expectation, trial court, chest, consumer, design defect, first alternate, suction, peremptory challenge, peremptory, harmless, parties, replace, warnings, connected, drainage, seat, tube, ordinary consumer, alternate juror, sworn, medical device, expectations, passive, surgery, instructions, questions, tactical, instruction of a jury
Torts, Products Liability, Types of Defects, Design Defects, Theories of Liability, Strict Liability, Types of Defects, Civil Procedure, Standards of Review, Harmless & Invited Errors, Harmless Error Rule, Trials, Jury Trials, Polling of Jury, Appeals, Reversible Errors, Jurors, Qualifications