With the recent $417 million dollar jury verdict against Johnson & Johnson in the California suit alleging the company’s talc-based baby powder causes ovarian cancer, many in the legal community will be closely watching the Cook IVC bellwether trials which are scheduled to begin in less than two months.
On August 23, 2017 U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana issued a Third Amended Bellwether Trial Plan for In Re: Cook Medical, Inc., IVC Filters Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2570. The first bellwether trial is scheduled to begin on October 23, 2017, with the second to start on April 30, 2018, and the third on September 10, 2018.
What is an IVC Filter?
IVC filters are small, umbrella-like devices are implanted in a patient’s inferior vena cava (the main vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower body to the heart) to capture blood clots which could result in a pulmonary embolism. However, some IVC filters have been linked to serious and sometimes fatal complications. According to the FDA, the most common complications associated with IVC filters include:
- IVC thrombosis
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- Access site thrombosis
- Filter migration
- Caval penetration
- IVC filter fracture
In serious cases, after implant, the metal limbs of the filter can perforate the vena cava, migrate out of position or break apart, sending fragments or metal shards into the patient’s heart or lungs. In some instances, the filter can become embedded making removal of the temporary filter simply too dangerous and life threatening.
The Multidistrict Litigation against Cook Medical and Settlement
In October 2014 the Cook Medical IVC Filter multidistrict litigation (MDL) was formed when the cases were consolidated in MDL 2570 in US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The defendants are accused of failing to disclose the IVC filter risks to patients and their physicians.
Notably, in March 2017, Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker issued an order setting three settlement conferences during July and August 2017. Per the Court’s order, representative counsel for the parties were to appear before the Court to discuss a possible global resolution to the litigation. However, despite the large numbers of studies and research reports that link IVC filters to serious side effects, the parties have not been able to reach a settlement.
The First Cook MDL Bellwether Trial
With the recent Management Order, the first trial will begin on October 23, 2017. The case involves Elizabeth Jane Hill, a woman from Florida who was implanted with a Cook Celect IVC filter. Ms. Hill’s filter was implanted prophylactically before her scheduled back surgery and the filter migrated and perforated her vena cava and small intestine. After at least one failed retrieval attempt, her IVC filter was successfully removed percutaneously two years after implant using advanced retrieval techniques.
The goal of bellwether selection is to provide a sample of cases representative of the whole and is intended to be indicative of future trials. Of the three cases selected for Bellwether treatment, Ms. Hill’s injuries are the least egregious. In the second trial (scheduled for April 30, 2018) plaintiff Arthur Gage alleges his Günther Tulip filter perforated his vena cava and cannot be removed. The third bellwether (September 10, 2018) is Tonya Brand who underwent an open surgery, where the filter was removed but the fractured pieces from the filter could not be recovered and remain in her body.
As noted above, with hundreds of cases involved and potentially hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, many people around the country will be watching the Cook IVC filter trials closely.
If you or a loved one suffered IVC filter side effects such as migration, IVC perforation, DVT or pulmonary embolism, an IVC filter lawsuit may help you obtain compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and more. The IVC filter lawyers at Paglialunga & Harris are providing free consultations and claim evaluations for individuals throughout the United States.