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A federal trial is scheduled to begin today, involving problems with a Bard Eclipse Vena Cava filter that fractured and caused a woman to suffer a pulmonary embolism. The case is the second in a series of bellwether trials designed to gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout hundreds of Bard IVC filter lawsuits pending in the federal court system.
Vena cava filters, or IVC filters, are small, spider-like devices used in recent years for individuals at risk for blood clots, preventing clots that break free in the body from traveling to the lungs. However, certain retrievable designs introduced by C.R. Bard and other companies have been linked to reports of problems where the filters moved out of position, punctured internal organs or fractured, causing small pieces to travel through the body.
There are currently more than 3,700 lawsuits pending against C.R. Bard in the federal court system, which have been centralized before before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona since August 2015, for coordinated pretrial proceedings and discovery.
As part of the centralized management, Judge Campbell has established a “bellwether” program, where a small group of cases have been prepared for early trial dates to allow the parties to learn more about the relative strengths and weaknesses of their positions.
Early last month, the first vena cava filter bellwether trial ended in a $3.6 million jury award for a woman who had a Bard G2 filter fracture inside her body, including $2 million in punitive damages designed to punish the manufacturer.
The second case is set to begin today, involving a complaint (PDF) filed by Doris Jones in March 2016, after a Bard Eclipse vena cava filter fractured about a year earlier, and embolized in her pulmonary artery.
Last week, the court released a witness list (PDF) for the trial, including 79 individuals who may be called to testify during the course of the trial.
While the outcomes of the Jones case and other bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, it will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation, as it may influence negotiations to reach IVC filter settlements, which would avoid the need for hundreds of individual trial dates to be set in courts nationwide.
In addition to litigation against Bard, more than 4,000 similar Cook IVC filter lawsuits are also pending as part of a second federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).