The bellwether selection process for Cook Medical’s IVC filter lawsuits has been heated and highly contested for weeks now, but a judge has finally selected the first bellwether cases. Two of the first three cases involve Cook’s Celect IVC filter and the third involves Cook’s Günther Tulip IVC filter.

The first plaintiff to face Cook in court will be Elizabeth Jane Hill, who had a Celect IVC filter implanted in November 2010. When doctors tried to remove the device the following March, they were unable to extract it.

During the course of the next three years, Ms. Hill began to experience severe gastrointestinal symptoms including inflammation, diarrhea, fatigue, and vomiting. Doctors performed a colonoscopy and discovered Ms. Hill’s IVC filter had migrated from her inferior vena cava where it was originally placed and lodged itself into the wall of her intestines. After undergoing an emergency procedure to remove the device, Ms. Hill was left with a permanent narrowing at the site of the excision.

Ms. Hill is not alone. More than 650 lawsuits have been filed against Cook regarding its defective IVC filters and thousands more have been filed against other IVC filter manufacturers like C.R. Bard, Cordis Corporation, and Boston Scientific. The lawsuits allege manufacturers failed to warn consumers of the risks associated with IVC filters.

Just months before Ms. Hill had her Cook Celect IVC filter implanted, the FDA released a statement warning of adverse events associated with defective IVC filters. Out of 921 reports received by the FDA between 2005 and 2010, 328 reports concerned device migration.

Plaintiffs are likely relieved the initial bellwether selections have been made. The litigation against Cook has been long and drawn out. The company asked for three separate trial postponements to work on a settlement conference, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement. For plaintiffs who have been waiting years to hold Cook responsible, their day in court is in the near future.