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Texas Court of Appeals Holds That Specialized Surgical Instruments are Exempt Orthopedic Devices
Date:2/21/2012

DALLAS, Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In a case developed and argued at the administrative level by Ryan, LLC, a Texas Court of Appeals ("Court") has ruled that certain specialized surgical instruments are exempt from sales and use taxes. In Zimmer US, Inc. v. Combs, No. 03-11-00178-CV (Tex. App. – Austin, February 9, 2012), the Court considered whether cutting guides, reamers, provisional implants, and other surgical instruments qualify for exemption. The instruments were specially engineered for use in implanting Zimmer US, Inc.'s ("Zimmer") reconstructive prosthetics. The instruments were designed solely for use with Zimmer implants and were not suited for general surgical or orthopedic purposes. Zimmer contended that the instruments were exempt either as "orthopedic devices" or as "supplies" for orthopedic or prosthetic devices.

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Tex. Tax Code Section 151.313(a)(5) exempts from tax "a brace; hearing aid or audio loop; orthopedic, dental, or prosthetic device; ileostomy, colostomy, or ileal bladder appliance; or supplies or replacement parts for the listed items." In 34 TAC Section 3.284(a), the Comptroller defined an "orthopedic appliance" as "[a]ny appliance or device designed specifically for use in the correction or prevention of human deformities, defects, or chronic diseases of the skeleton, joints, or spine." The Court held that Zimmer's surgical instruments met the rule's definition of "orthopedic appliance" because they were designed specifically for use in orthopedic surgeries, which are undertaken for "the correction or prevention of human deformities, defects, or chronic diseases of the skeleton, joints, or spine." Zimmer demonstrated that the implantation of the prosthetics would be impossible without the surgical procedures, making the procedures an essential part of the "correctio
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