It's been more than a decade since heart valves made by Shiley Inc. were pulled off the market, but the former Irvine-based biomedical company continues to be hit with lawsuits.
Capretz & Radcliffe, a Newport Beach law firm, filed the most recent lawsuit in an attempt to recover costs associated with replacing allegedly faulty Shiley heart valves. Attorney James Capretz said the firm sued last week in provincial court in Ontario, Canada, on behalf of the province's insurance plan to recover money paid to treat heart-valve recipients. Shiley and its parent, Pfizer Inc., were named as defendants.
Capretz said the insurance plan paid costs of surgically replacing the Shiley valves. He said about 500 Ontario residents received the valves.
More than 80,000 of the valves--mostly made in Orange County--were implanted in patients worldwide between 1978 and 1986 before the product was pulled off the market. Hundreds of deaths have been linked to the failure of a tiny strut in the valve.
Pfizer Inc. bought Shiley in 1979, sold most of its operations to Fiat S.A. of Turin, Italy, in 1992, and has closed the Irvine operations. Pfizer has already paid hundreds of millions of dollars to settle litigation but hasn't admitted any wrongdoing. A Pfizer spokesman wouldn't comment on the Canadian lawsuit.
Barbara Marsh covers health care for The Times. She can be reached at (714) 966-7762 and at firstname.lastname@example.org