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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal IVC filter lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard has directed the parties to submit a list of bellwether cases tomorrow, which will go through case specific discovery in preparation for a series of early trial dates expected to begin late next year.
There are currently about 1,300 lawsuits pending in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the risk of problems with Bard IVC filters, which are small devices implanted in the vena cava to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolism. However, cases brought nationwide allege that design defects make the devices prone to move out of position, puncture internal organs or fracture, causing small pieces to travel throughout the body.
Since August 2015, the Bard IVC filter litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona for coordinated pretrial proceedings, to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting rulings from different Courts and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
As part of coordinated MDL proceedings, Judge Campbell has previously established a bellwether trial plan, which calls for a small group of cases to be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout many lawsuits. About four dozen cases are currently part of a bellwether plan, which will soon be reduced to a much smaller “discovery group”.
In a case management order (PDF) issued December 13, Judge Campbell indicated that the parties are expected to submit a proposal with 8 to 12 cases to be considered for this first discovery group. Responses to the other side’s submissions are to be filed by December 22. It is expected that the bellwether cases will ultimately be narrowed down to a final group of six cases, which go through case-specific discovery and be eligible for the first jury trials in the Fall of 2017.
While the outcomes of these early bellwether trials will not be binding on other cases, they will be closely watched by those involved in the litigation, as they may influence eventual IVC filter settlements in hundreds of cases.
In addition to cases against Bard, hundreds of similar Cook IVC filter lawsuits and Cordis IVC filter lawsuits are also pending against the manufacturers of these similar medical devices. A separate group of Cook bellwether cases are also being prepared for a series of bellwether trials, which are scheduled to begin in October 2017.