First Florida Tuberculosis-Tainted Surgical Case Among the Latest Filed Against Aziyo Biologics, INC. As Morris James and Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky Lawyers Now Jointly Represent Nearly One Dozen TB-Infected Surgical Patients Across Four States

Florida’s first case, along with another Delaware case of surgical patients unknowingly infected with tuberculosis linked to the recalled Aziyo Biologics, Inc. surgical bone-graft implant,  have been jointly filed in Federal and State courts by lawyers from Morris James and Saltz Mongeluzzi & Bendesky.

The firms, who recently filed the first case nationally, now represent nearly one dozen TB-infected patients, including one who died following surgery, across four states, according to the legal team that named Aziyo, Inc., and Medtronic, Inc., distributor of the FiberCel Viable Bone Matrix (VBM)  surgical material, as defendants. Besides Delaware and Florida, they are preparing additional complaints on behalf of Aziyo-implant patients in Maryland and Indiana.

Attorney Lawrence R. Cohan, who heads Saltz Mongeluzzi’s toxic tort practice, said Deborah Rice, a learning technologies administrator from Panama City Beach, yesterday became the first TB-stricken Floridian – and the first female plaintiff to file – seeking justice against the defendants in her complaint (D. Rice vs. Aziyo, Inc. et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, No.5-21-cv-00135). Mr. Cohan said on March 29, 2021, Ms. Rice underwent spinal surgery at Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Miramar Beach, and, as alleged in the other filed cases, bone grafting was performed using Aziyo’s FiberCel implant.

Can you imagine the shock and horror experienced by Ms. Rice when on June 8th her doctors told her she tested positive for TB, and then learned that the tainted implant was the culprit? The pain and suffering have been severe and there is no telling at this point how long the grueling medical treatment for tuberculosis will continue. She is completely devastated.

All plaintiffs represented by the legal team are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, as well as ongoing medical monitoring. 

Newark, Delaware resident Jean Georges, 46, married, a father, and IT engineer, is among the youngest plaintiffs/patients to file (Georges v. Aziyo, Inc et al. Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, No.N21C-06-256 EMD).  His complaint filed in Delaware state court this week details his two-week hospitalization at Christiana Care following what he and his wife, Shante, believed was going to be routine surgery, known as a lumbar fusion, to relieve chronic back pain. Instead, according to the complaint, unbeknownst to them or his surgical team the surgical bone-graft material they used on March 8, 2021 was rife with tuberculosis. The presence of TB was not determined until after the surgery, and by that time Mr. Georges had to undergo another procedure – to remove and replace spinal fluid – and had developed severe back and hip pain, as well as eye and bowel infections. He continues to suffer from the effects of TB and remains under the care of his medical team. 

Morris James attorney Matthew R. Fogg, whose firm is headquartered in Wilmington, stated, “As asserted in the complaint, there is no doubt that Mr. Georges contracted tuberculosis as a direct result of the contaminated, recalled Aziyo FiberCel implant used in his surgery. His life has been a living hell and is filing a lawsuit to ensure that those responsible for his pain and suffering are held fully accountable.”

Attorneys Keith Donovan, Susan D’Alonzo Ament, Kevin G. Healy, and Michael G. Owen at Morris James and attorney Joshua C. Cohan at Saltz Mongeluzzi are also members of the plaintiffs’ legal team.

In their first filing, the attorneys sued the defendants on behalf of a Delaware retiree who contracted TB during a spinal fusion operation also at Christiana Care Hospital. Like the other patients, once determined, he urgently underwent revision surgery on his spine and also began antibiotic treatment for tuberculosis. 

Aziyo, Inc. is a Delaware regenerative medicine company that recalled its TB-tainted FiberCel Viable Bone Matrix (VBM)  used to promote post-surgical healing. Its product was used by surgeons in nearly two dozen orthopedic surgeries at Christiana Care Hospital, and more than 115 across 20 states. 

Aziyo’s voluntary product recall, issued through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), referred to “post-surgical infection in seven of the 23 patients that have received FiberCel from this Donor Lot. Four of these patients have tested positive for Tuberculosis.” Aziyo claims that lot consists of 154 units all derived from a single cadaver-donor. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It usually attacks the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.

Note: Neither of the plaintiffs is available for interviews at this time. Members of the legal team can be reached via phone or email (see below).

Contacts:

Lawrence R. Cohan/lcohan@smbb.com/215.575.3887
Keith E. Donovan/kdonovan@morrisjames.com/302.888.6808
Dawn V. Sheiker / DSheiker@morrisjames.com/302.888.6808
Steph Rosenfeld / steph@idadvisors.com/215.514.4101

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