Marshall County jury awards $112M verdict in contract dispute case

Attorney Jere L. Humphrey, with the Plymouth firm Wyland, Humphrey and Clevenger, was local counsel, and among seven other plaintiff’s attorneys, in a civil case that ended Tuesday with a $112 million jury verdict award.
Shawn McGrath
Staff Writer

A Marshall County jury awarded a Central Indiana spinal surgeon over $100 million in damages – an amount legal experts say is historic in the county and possibly statewide.

The six-person jury found in favor of Indianapolis-based spinal surgeon Dr. Rick C. Sasso on Tuesday against the global, medical device manufacturing conglomerate Medtronic following a nearly month-long trial in Marshall Circuit Court.

Sasso, a Warsaw native who also teaches at the IU School of Medicine, had filed suit alleging Medtronic violated contracts by not paying royalties on a pair of Sasso’s patented inventions: a spinal-implant system and a screw-implant system, also for the spine. Sasso sold the patents to Medtronic, but he alleged the company stopped paying royalties.

“(Sasso) is a world-class – and that’s not exaggeration – spine surgeon,” Plymouth-based attorney Jere L. Humphrey, who served as local counsel in the case, said Wednesday. “He goes all over the world and gives instructions on how to do spine surgery. Besides being a world-class spine surgeon, he also is an inventor.”

The jury awarded Sasso $112.5 million for two claims. The jury denied Medtronic’s counterclaim against Sasso.

The damage amount was exactly the figure that Sasso’s attorneys had sought, Humphrey said.

The court case was originally filed in 2013 in Kosciusko Circuit Court since Medtronic has a subsidiary in Warsaw. The conglomerate is based in Dublin, Ireland, for tax purposes, but its functional headquarters are just outside Minneapolis, Minn.

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