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As the organizational structure for all Bard IVC filter lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system continues to be established, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has appointed a group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership roles.
These lawyers will take certain actions during the discovery and pretrial proceedings in the Bard IVC filter litigation that benefit all individuals who have have filed a complaint over injuries suffered when one of the small blood clot filters migrated out of position, punctured the inferior vena cava or fractured, often sending small metal pieces traveling to the heart or lungs.
In August, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidate pretrial proceedings for all Bard Recovery filter lawsuits, Bard G2 filter lawsuits and other similar claims involving retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters manufactured by C.R. Bard.
All of the claims involve similar allegations that the small devices implanted to reduce the risk of blood clots traveling to the lungs were defectively designed and are unreasonably dangerous, containing inadequate warnings about the potential injury risks associated with Bard IVC filters.
Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the cases, a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) was established before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona to coordinate discovery, avoid conflicting rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
Following an initial status conference last week, Judge Campbell issued a case management order (PDF) on October 30, appointing a group of two dozen lawyers to serve in various leadership roles in the Bard IVC filter MDL.
Two co-lead/liaison counsel were appointed to coordinate service and filings on behalf of all plaintiffs, and to coordinate discovery and litigation with similar state court cases. A group of 22 additional attorneys were appointed to serve on a plaintiffs’ steering committe (PSC), who will be assigned various tasks by the lead counsel during the coordinated pretrial discovery.
These Bard IVC injury lawyers will conduct and coordinate discovery into issues that are common to a large number of cases, speak for plaintiffs at hearings and meetings before the court, as well as negotiate and enter into any potential stipulations or settlement agreements with the Defendants.
In another case management order (PDF) issued the same day, which summarized decisions made during the initial status conference last week, Judge Campbell also noted that global discussions to reach Bard IVC filter settlements will not be required at this early stage of the litigation.
“The number and nature of cases to be added to this MDL is yet to be determined, and the scale of this litigation will be an important factor in settlement efforts,” Judge Campbell ruled. “The Court will raise this issue with the parties in the future.”
Many of the cases recently transferred to Judge Campbell since the federal MDL was established were already at an advanced stage, nearing readiness for trial. Judge Campbell indicates in the order that all parties currently agree that these cases should not be remanded for trial at this time, but will remain a part of the MDL and may be considered for potential bellwether trials.
IVC Blood Clot Filter Concerns
Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are small medical devices that have been implanted in many patients at risk for a pulmonary embolism in recent years.
The Bard Recovery and G2 filters are two models involved in the lawsuits, which are designed to be retrievable once the risk of a blood clot has passed. However, plaintiffs allege that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the importance of removing the filter, as the risk of problems may increase 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.
While there are currently only a few dozen complaints pending in the recently established MDL, as Bard IVC filter attorneys continue to review and file complaints for individuals who have experienced problems, it is ultimately expected that several thousand lawsuits will be centralized before Judge Campbell.