Devices & Diagnostics

Lenox MacLaren sues Medtronic (again) over bone mill deal

When Linda Lenox inked a distribution deal in 2000 with Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT) to distribute her company’s revolutionary bone, she hoped the deal would put the devices in every orthopedic surgical suite in the world. The deal came to naught and has generated at least two lawsuits.

Since Linda Lenox began designing medical devices in her garage in 1987, she’s invented and patented four products and developed hundreds more, according to MassDevice, a content partner with MedCity News.

When Lenox inked a distribution deal in 2000 with Medtronic Inc. (NYSE: MDT) to distribute the revolutionary bone mill made by her firm, Lenox MacLaren Surgical Corp., she hoped the deal would put the devices in every orthopedic surgical suite in the world.

But the deal allegedly came to naught after the Fridley, Minnesota, medical device giant bought only about 500 of the mills, using them in a loaner program to create a demand while developing its own mill to usurp the Lenox MacLaren device, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Colorado.

Bone mills are used to grind bone samples taken from patients into uniform pieces, which are packed into voids or fractures during spinal fusion procedures to help damaged vertebrae heal, MassDevice reported. Louisville, Colorado-based Lenox MacLaren’s hand-cranked device was an advance because it created uniform pieces — no matter how fast it was cranked — leaving the individual bone cells intact, according to court documents.

When Medtronic was ready to launch its competing mill, it recalled the Lenox MacLaren device, destroying its reputation, the company claimed in court filings, the Pioneer Press reported. Lenox MacLaren has not been able to get back into the market because of Medtronic’s monopoly, the Colorado company alleged.

Medtronic officials said the claims echo those raised by Lenox MacLaren in a 2007 lawsuit that was dismissed this year, according to the Pioneer Press.

Before the 2007 lawsuit was dismissed, the case went to an arbitration panel that considered a dozen claims against Medtronic raised by Lenox MacLaren, according to court documents, the St. Paul, Minnesota, newspaper reported. The panel sided with Lenox MacLaren in one of those cases and awarded the company damages of about $321,870.

“We do not comment on pending litigation,” Medtronic spokesman Brian Henry told the Pioneer Press. “However, it does not appear that there is anything raised that was not already resolved in the first case.”