WILMINGTON, Del., April 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Lexion Medical, LLC of St. Paul, Minnesota announced today that a jury in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware found SurgiQuest, Inc. liable for false advertising. SurgiQuest, Inc. is a subsidiary of CONMED Corporation (NASDAQ: CNMD). The trial lasted 7 days before the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet, United States District Court Judge. The case had been pending since 2014.
Lexion presented three categories of false advertising claims at the trial. The first category concerned SurgiQuest's advertising relating to heating and humidification. Lexion sells the Insuflow heater/humidifier and the Synergy line of trocars, both of which are designed to deliver heated and humidified carbon dioxide to the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery. Clinical studies have shown various health benefits can be achieved by using heated and humidified gas. Lexion presented evidence at the trial that SurgiQuest sales representatives had created the impression that SurgiQuest's Airseal system could perform essentially the same function as Insuflow. Lexion contended these claims, as well as others concerning heating and humidification, were false and/or misleading. Lexion presented expert testimony that the Airseal System puts dry gas into the body during laparoscopic surgery and removes moisture from the patient through evaporation inside the abdomen. The jury found SurgiQuest liable for false advertising based on statements concerning "heat and humidification."
The second category of claims concerned SurgiQuest's advertising relating to "air." SurgiQuest's advertising claims in this category also concern its Airseal system used during laparoscopic surgery where the abdomen is typically inflated with carbon dioxide gas. Lexion presented expert testimony that when suction is used or when there is a leak of carbon dioxide gas from the abdomen, for example when the uterus is removed during a hysterectomy, that SurgiQuest's Airseal system causes operating room air to be sucked into the abdomen. The expert testimony was based upon testing performed by the expert witness as well SurgiQuest's own internal testing. Lexion contended at the trial that various advertising by SurgiQuest was false and/or misleading including the "Airseal" name itself, due to the behavior of the system in the presence of suction or leaks.
Lexion presented testimony regarding the significance of SurgiQuest's advertising to surgeons. According to a patent owned by SurgiQuest, altering the concentration of carbon dioxide gas to other gasses in the body cavity is "typically undesirable for the safety of the patient." Lexion presented expert testimony consistent with SurgiQuest's statement. A potential complication of laparoscopic surgery is subcutaneous emphysema where some of the pressurized gas used to inflate the abdomen is forced into tissue under the skin. Lexion's medical expert presented his opinion that subcutaneous emphysema may take longer to resolve when air is present rather than just carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is easier to absorb than nitrogen and oxygen. Lexion's medical expert further presented examples of complications that had occurred during the use of the Airseal system, including pneumothorax in addition to subcutaneous emphysema. The jury found that SurgiQuest is liable for false advertising based on statements concerning "air."
The third category of claims concerned SurgiQuest's advertising relating to "smoke." During laparoscopic surgery, surgical smoke is generated during the use of electrocautery devices. SurgiQuest makes various claims regarding the ability of its Airseal system to remove surgical smoke from the abdomen. Lexion presented expert testimony that (1) surgical smoke vents out the top of the Airseal trocar during surgery, and (2) that the Airseal filtration system is incapable of removing toxic and carcinogenic gasses in the surgical smoke. Lexion contended that various advertising claims of SurgiQuest were false and/or misleading as a result. The jury found that SurgiQuest is liable for false advertising based on statements concerning "smoke."
The jury found that Lexion had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that SurgiQuest intentionally or willfully made a false advertising statement. The jury further found that Lexion had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that SurgiQuest intentionally or recklessly engaged in unfair competition. The jury awarded $2.2 million in lost profit damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Lexion's CEO, Mr. Patrick Spearman, commented, "We are pleased with the jury's verdict. We think what SurgiQuest is doing in the marketplace is wrong. The jury found that SurgiQuest is liable for false advertising on three different categories of statements. We believe our position was vindicated and we hope to begin restoring the damage caused to Lexion."
SOURCE Lexion Medical, LLC