Ex-Utah Football Star Sues Medical Tech Company

June 14, 2011

A former University of Utah football star has sued a medical technology company, saying a postsurgical device implanted into his shoulder to relieve pain caused permanent damage to the joint.

Jason Kaufusi’s lawsuit claims that the Stryker Corp. pain pump implanted in his left shoulder during a 2003 procedure caused chondrolysis, a condition that involves severe cartilage loss as well as pain, weakness and decreased range of motion, the Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported.

Stryker spokesman Aaron Kwittken said the Michigan-based company does not comment on legal matters.

The devices are intended to help manage pain following surgery by releasing controlled amounts of local anesthetics to the surgical site.

After the diagnosis, Kaufusi repeatedly consulted with health experts to determine what caused the shoulder damage, according to the suit.

“Despite his diligence, Mr. Kaufusi did not discover until the summer of 2010 that the pain pump was the likely cause of the cartilage degeneration in his left shoulder,” according to the suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

Kaufusi, a defensive end, was the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year in 2000 and a first-team, all-conference player in 2001 and 2002. He was a preseason All-America candidate and on the Outland Trophy watch list in 2003 until a shoulder injury ended his career.

Kaufausi, 32, who is married with three children, now is defensive line coach at Weber State University under Ron McBride, his former coach at Utah.

His complaint alleges Stryker knew or should have known its pain pumps cause chondrolysis.

“Defendants knew that their pain pump was never cleared by the FDA for use in or near the joint space, or even for use in orthopedic surgery at all,” the suit contends.

In the past, Stryker has maintained that its pain pump does not cause chondrolysis.

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