Organization of Bard Blood Clot Filter Lawsuits to be Discussed at MDL Status Conference

Lawyers involved in the federal Bard blood clot filter lawsuits are scheduled to meet today with the U.S. District judge presiding over the federal litigation, to review the structure of the recently consolidated proceedings, the status of discovery and how the court should handle a number of older cases that are nearly ready for trial to begin.

In August, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that all product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system over complications with retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters manufactured by C.R. Bard will be centralized before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Each of the claims raise similar allegations that Bard sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous blood clot filter, which is a retrievable device implanted into the vena cava to prevent clots from breaking free and traveling to the lungs. Plaintiffs claim that they suffered a variety of injuries when the filters moved out of position, punctured the vein or fractured, causing small pieces to travel to the heart or lungs.

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According an agenda (PDF) posted in advance of the initial status conference scheduled for today, Judge Campbell will review protocols for production of documents, the scope of common-issue discovery and how the litigation should be coordinated with similar state court cases. Judge Campbell is also expected to review the process for selecting a small group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in leadership roles in the Bard IVC filter litigation.

There are currently about 60 cases pending in the MDL, with hundreds of additional complaints likely to be filed over the coming weeks and months. Many of the initial cases transferred into the MDL were filed some time ago, with several almost ready for trial to begin at the time the U.S. JPML established the centralized proceedings. Judge Campbell is expected to review how these advanced cases should be handled, as well as the history of any negotiations to reach Bard blood clot filter settlement agreements.

IVC Blood Clot Filter Concerns

Most of the cases involve issues with the Bard Recovery and G2 filters, which were designed to be retrievable, but have been linked to a higher-than-expected rate of problems. Plaintiffs allege that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the risk of complications, as well as the importance of removing the filter once the risk of a blood clot has passed, as problems may be more likely to occur the longer the device is in place.

In August 2010, the FDA issued a warning about the risk of IVC filter problems, indicating that the agency had received hundreds of adverse event reports where filters broke free and travelled to other areas of the body or caused other injury.

A study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine in March 2013 raised questions about the effectiveness of IVC filters, indicating that less than 10% of filters evaluated in the study were successfully removed from patients and 8% of recipients of IVC filters suffered a pulmonary embolism despite the device’s presence.

In May 2014, the FDA urged doctors to remove IVC filters within about one to two months after the risk of a pulmonary embolism has passed, suggesting that many doctors were not adequately warned about the importance of retrieving the devices.

Similar centralized pretrial proceedings have been established for blood clot filter lawsuits filed against Cook Medical, involving problems with the Cook Celect and Gunther Tulip vena cava filters. Those cases are centralized as part of an MDL before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana, who has established a process for preparing a small group of cases for early bellwether trial dates that are expected to begin by late next year.

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