Two manufacturers of IVC filters are facing civil lawsuits for the damage caused by their medical devices. The IVC filter lawsuits against manufacturer Cook Medical have tentatively scheduled bellwether trials for this September, while the IVC filter lawsuits against manufacturer C.R. Bard are slowly moving forward. With over 500 cases centralized in Arizona, lawyers for both the plaintiffs and defendants are working on selecting bellwether cases for trial.
The selection won’t be complete until 2017, and it will be sometime after that before the cases go to trial, but plaintiffs will have the opportunity to see how Cook Medical fairs in its IVC filter lawsuits in September of this year, which could help predict the outcome for lawsuits against Bard.
With nearly twice as many IVC filters models as Cook, Bard has faced far more issues with their devices. Its first IVC filter was approved in 2002, but within only two years the company began receiving complaints that the device was migrating, fracturing, and perforating the inferior vena cava causing more serious and sometimes deadly complications.
An IVC filter (or inferior vena cava filter) is a small cone-shaped device that is implanted in the body and designed to capture an embolism – a blood clot that has broken loose from one of the deep veins in the legs on the way to the heart or lungs. In some patients, IVC filters can become dislodged from the walls of the inferior vena cava or can break into pieces that travel through the body, possibly attaching itself to other vital organs like the lungs or heart. When this occurs, removal may become impossible and can led to additional injuries.
By 2005, Bard had received so many complaints the company decided to voluntarily remove its IVC filters from the market and replace them with a newer model designed to have enhanced fracture resistance. However, many patients have reported that Bard’s newer models are no safer than their predecessors.
Internal documents from Bard have indicated the company knew of the risks associated with its devices and continued to manufacture them without warning consumers. The first of the Bard IVC filter lawsuits were filed in 2012 with several cases going to trial in 2015, but for the vast majority of plaintiffs, they will have to continue to wait for their day in court.