Thomaston woman sues company for defective needle injury

By Juliette Laaka | Dec 02, 2013

A Thomaston woman, having blood drawn at Pen Bay Medical Center nearly three years ago, claims a defective needle manufactured by a New Jersey company was driven into her arm when a component of the device broke, causing permanent loss of use of her right arm.

Michelle A. Burtis filed a civil action Nov. 22 in U.S. District Court against Becton, Dickinson and Company, seeking punitive damages and a jury trial in federal court.

The company designs, manufactures and sells products for blood and urine collection, including the vacutainer eclipse blood collection needle. The product is subject to special controls by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure its safety, and was approved in 1998 by the agency.

The suit states both the FDA and the defendant were notified of instances when the components of the needle broke during use, causing harm to the patient. Despite the information, the company continued to market the needle, and did not notify patients or users to the risk, according to the suit

In February 2011, when Burtis was a patient, the needle was driven into her arm when it broke. She claims the defective and unreasonable dangerous condition of the needle caused her injury, and the company was negligent and owed a duty to users to warn of a possible risk.

Burtis is represented by Lewiston attorneys John E. Sedgewick and Alicia F. Curtis.

Becton, Dickinson and Company is represented by James M. Bowie of Portland. A message left with Bowie was not returned by press time.

Courier Publications' reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at

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Juliette Laaka
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Juliette primarily covers the cops and courts beat for The Courier-Gazette.

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