Irvine : Firm Sued Again Over Defective Heart Valve

Shiley Inc. of Irvine, manufacturers of a defective heart valve that has been recalled worldwide, was sued again Friday in Orange County Superior Court for alleged product liability and negligence.

Although the valve implanted in his chest in September, 1982, has continued to function, Robert Kiernan, 56, of Bell claims in his suit against Shiley and its parent, Pfizer Inc. of New York, that he has suffered severe emotional distress that has aggravated an already chronic heart condition.

"Mr. Kiernan is confronted with running the odds, hoping that the one (valve) he has is not one of those that is going to fail," said attorney Mark Edwards of Tustin.

Bob Curtis, president of Shiley, was unavailable for comment Friday.

Shiley instituted a worldwide recall of the Bjork-Shiley 60-degree ConvexoConcave valve last October and two others like it because of a mechanical defect that has caused about 14 deaths.

Shortly after the recall began, Shiley was sued in Orange County by a Canadian whose valve fractured and nearly killed him.

Kiernan, a meat cutter who has been unable to work since his heart surgery in 1982, is seeking general damages and medical expenses he will incur in having the valve replaced.

"This is not a normal case where a defective product can be replaced before it hurts someone," Edwards said. "He faces a serious and painful surgery and there is, of course, a risk in all surgery."

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