July 15, 2015 — NuVasive, Inc. has been ordered to pay $2.8 million after an appeals court upheld a San Diego jury’s decision that the company conspired with a local surgeon to make false statements about the safety of its NeuroVision device back in 2013, NBC San Diego reports.
The lawsuit was filed by Barbara Kitrosser, who has severe back pain. She agreed to be treated with NuVasive’s NeuroVision device because she was told it would prevent nerve damage.
NeuroVision is marketed as an aid to a specific type of surgery where the surgeon accesses the spine from the patient’s side, rather then from the back. One major risk of side-access surgery is damage to nerves of the psoas muscle, which the surgeon must pass through to get to the spine. NuVasive claims the NeuroVision device can help the surgeon avoid damaging these nerves.
According to the lawsuit, she was given pamphlets claiming NeuroVision could “ensure your nerve safety” and “has been used successfully in over 60,000 spinal surgeries.”
Instead, Kitrosser says her back pain worsened and she developed chronic pain that made it more difficult to walk or perform normal daily activities. As a result, she must take pain medication and cannot easily leave her house.
Upon further investigation, evidence emerged that her surgeon, Dr. William Taylor, had business and financial relationships with NuVasive. He also helped develop, test, and market the device, for which he received more than $220,000 annually in payments.
Dr. Taylor never told Kitrosser about his ties to NuVasive when recommending the NeuroVision device for her back pain. According to the appeals court, the jury found:
“… Taylor’s statements (about the NeuroVision device) were a substantial factor in causing Kitrosser’s harm, and NuVasive agreed and intended that Taylor made such statements.”
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