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Hepburn v. Boston Scientific Corp.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

January 23, 2019



          David C. Nye, Chief U.S. District Court Judge.


         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Boston Scientific's Second Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. 18. Plaintiff Claudia Hepburn asserts that she has an increased risk of future injury because she has a permanent, defectively designed, medical device- which Boston Scientific designed, manufactured, and sold-implanted inside of her. She claims that Boston Scientific failed to warn her about the potential health risks associated with the device.

         The Court held oral argument on January 9, 2019. During that hearing, the Court again ordered any reference to punitive damages struck from Hepburn's Amended Complaint.[1] The Court took the remaining issue-whether it should dismiss Hepburn's fraudulent misrepresentation claim-under advisement. For the reasons set forth below, the Court now GRANTS Boston Scientific's Second Motion to Dismiss.


         Boston Scientific designed, manufactures, and sells a medical device called the Greenfield Filter. The Greenfield Filter is designed to filter blood in the inferior vena cava (“IVC”), a vein that returns blood to the heart from the lower extremities. In certain individuals, blood clots or “thrombi” travel from the blood vessels in the leg and pelvis, through the IVC and into the lungs, where they can block one or more arteries, causing a potentially deadly medical condition called a pulmonary embolism (“PE”). These thrombi can also develop and block blood flow in the deep leg veins, causing another potentially life-threatening medical condition called deep vein thrombosis (“DVT”).

         When implanted in the IVC, the Greenfield Filter prevents blood clots from traveling from the lower extremities to the heart and lungs. Boston Scientific designed the Greenfield Filter in 1973 as a permanent medical device.[2] In the 2000s, medical device companies began designing and selling retrievable IVC filters that a doctor can remove once a patient's risk of blood clots has passed.

         In August 2010, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a warning against leaving IVC filters implanted in patients for extended periods of time. The FDA issued an additional warning in 2014 about the health risks associated with leaving IVC filters in place for long periods and encouraged doctors to remove the devices “when the risk/benefit profile favors removal and the procedure is feasible given the patient's health status.” Dkt. 17, at 5.

         On December 23, 2009, Doctor John Mannschreck implanted a Greenfield Filter into Hepburn after she had been hospitalized for recurrent DVT episodes. The Filter remains inside of Hepburn to this day. Hepburn alleges that Boston Scientific failed to disclose to physicians and patients the risks associated with the Greenfield Filter while promoting it as safe and effective. Hepburn asserts that she “is at risk of suffering from serious health complications due to the long-term implant of the filter.” Id. at 10.

         Specifically, she alleges she has an “increased risk of DVT, despite the implanted device, constant pain in the abdominal region and the risk of the filter migrating to the other parts of the vena cava, heart, lungs or other organs, DVT, fracture or breakage of the filter, perforation of the vena cava or other soft tissue, as well as other complications.” Id. at 10.

         Hepburn filed this case in November 2017, in the Second Judicial District, in and for the County of Nez Perce. In her original Complaint, Hepburn brought ten claims against Boston Scientific. Boston Scientific removed the case to this Court on December 28, 2017, and filed its first Motion to Dismiss on January 12, 2018, which the Court granted in part, and denied in part. Specifically, the Court dismissed Hepburn's warranty claims, fraudulent concealment claim, and negligent misrepresentation claim with prejudice. Dkt. 16, at 4. It also dismissed Hepburn's fraudulent misrepresentation claim without prejudice and granted her leave to amend her complaint. The Court denied Boston Scientific's Motion to Dismiss as to Hepburn's negligence claim, and products liability claims.

         Hepburn filed her Amended Complaint on June 7, 2018. Boston Scientific filed its Second Motion to Dismiss on July 6, 2018, which only seeks dismissal of Hepburn's fraud claim (Count V) and asks the Court to strike Hepburn's request for punitive damages.


         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a claim if the plaintiff has “fail[ed] to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” “A Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal may be based on either a ‘lack of a cognizable legal theory' or ‘the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory.'” Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., LP, 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires a complaint to contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief, ” in order to “give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 554 (2007). “This is not an onerous burden.” Johnson, 534 F.3d at 1121. A complaint “does not need detailed factual allegations, ” but it must set forth “more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The complaint must also contain sufficient factual matter to ‚Äústate a claim to relief that is plausible on ...

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