Legal sysA memorandum decision from the Indiana Court of Appeals filed on December 4, stemming from a November 2018 jury verdict in Marshall County upheld the verdict in the case between Rick Sasso, M.D., Warsaw Othropedics, Inc., Medtronics, Inc. and Medtronic Sofamor Daneck, Inc. that ended after a fifteen-day jury trial that spanned over a month. Dr. Sasso was awarded over $112M, which was the largest verdict in county history.

Following the jury trial when damages were awarded to Dr. Sasso, Medtronic filed an appeal with the Indiana court of Appeals.

The original case was filed in Kosciusko Circuit Court in 2013, but was moved to Marshall County. Medtronic is a global, medical device manufacturing conglomerate that has a subsidiary in Warsaw.

The case involved two agreements between Medtronic and Dr. Sasso involving a screw delivery system (Screw Agreement) and an agreement involving a posterior cervical fixation system (Vertex Agreement), both invented by Sasso.   In 1999, Dr. Sasso and the predecessor company to Medtronic entered into a licensing agreement for the screw system. After a few years, the parties entered into a similar licensing agreement for Vertex cervical spine system. The agreements included quarterly royalty payments based on Medtronic’s sales of the medical devices.

During the 2018 jury trial, Dr. Sasso was represented locally by Jere Humphrey of Wyland, Humphrey, and Clevenger of Plymouth. The case was heard in the Marshall Circuit Court with Judge Curtis Palmer presiding. Humphrey was one of 20 attorneys involved in the case.

Dr. Sasso, formerly of Warsaw, is a renowned spinal surgeon and is a professor and chief of spinal surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine. He had filed suit alleging Medtronic violated contracts by not paying royalties on a pair of his patented inventions. Dr. Sasso alleged that he sold the patents for a spinal-implant system and a screw-implant system to Medtronic, but the company stopped paying royalties.

The following explanation is included in the decision: “Medtronic sells products for use in spinal surgery. In developing such products, Medtronic often collaborates with spinal surgeons. If a physician invents a surgical product, Medtronic typically enters into an agreement in which the physician assigns patent rights to Medtronic in exchange for royalties for the life of the patent.

At the end of the 2018 jury trial, damages were awarded to Dr. Sasso. Medtronic then filed an appeal with the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Carol Anders Correspondent