May 23, 2015 | SEARCH

Vail Doctor Sues Over Equipment

By Anne Colden, June 17, 2000

A Vail doctor is suing U.S. Surgical Corp., claiming the company

made a defective piece of equipment that malfunctioned during an

operation and resulted in the death of a patient.

Dr. Franklin

Chow alleged in his suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in

Denver that the equipment, called a disposable trocar, contained a

serious defect.

U.S. Surgical made the trocar, a razor-sharp

instrument, which is used to penetrate a patient’s abdomen in

laparoscopic surgery. A laparoscope has a small camera that provides an

internal view of the surgical area.

A spring-operated plastic sleeve is supposed to slide down and cover the blade to prevent internal injury.


an operation in 1995 at the Vail Valley Medical Center performed by Dr.

Chow, the trocar’s plastic sleeve failed to slide down and cover the

blade, according to his suit. The exposed blade severed the iliac vein

and artery of the patient, JoAnn Utzig of Edwards, causing massive

internal bleeding.

Utzig’s family brought a wrongful death suit

against Chow in 1996. In May, an Eagle County District Court jury found

Dr. Chow wasn’t negligent.

U.S. Surgical, based in Norwalk, Conn., didn’t return a call seeking comment.


attorney, Mark Werbner of the Dallas firm, Sayles, Lidji & Werbner,

said Food and Drug Administration records show there were “lots of

incidents reported concerning the trocar that the company didn’t

release publicly, nor tell Dr. Chow.”

According to the complaint,

“U.S. Surgical learned of the risk of injury associated with its

product and failed to provide adequate and timely post-marketing

warnings or instructions.”

Chow’s practice was “essentially

ruined from the aftermath of this patient’s death,” Werbner said. “He

wants the real danger of these instruments brought out through this


Chow also seeks damages sufficient to compensate him for lost income and legal fees.

Copyright 2000 The Denver Post. All rights reserved.

4400 Renaissance Tower | 1201 Elm Street | Dallas Texas 75270 | 214.939.8700