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Following a final pretrial conference held earlier this week, the U.S. District Judge presiding over all lawsuits involving problems with Bard IVC filters indicates that the next bellwether trial will begin on May 13, to help the parties further gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout several thousand similar claims.
C.R. Bard currently faces more than 7,000 product liability cases filed throughout the federal court system, each involving allegations that plaintiffs suffered painful IVC filter complications, including reports that the retrievable blood clot filters moved out of position, punctured internal organs or fractured, causing small pieces to travel throughout the body.
Given similar questions of fact and law presented in the cases, the litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL). To help the parties better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their positions, Judge Campbell has scheduled a series of early “bellwether” trials, which have resulted in mixed results so far, with one claim resulting in a $3.6 million verdict, and two other claims resulting in defense verdicts.
A Bard IVC filter lawsuit filed by Debra Tinlin has been selected for the next bellwether trial, involving claims that a Bard Recovery IVC filter fractured inside her body, resulting in small pieces traveling to her heart. Following surgical removal of the fractured IVC filter, scans have revealed that other struts have perforated her vena cava wall, and Tinlin still has pieces in her pulmonary arteries that can not be removed, posing a continuing threat to her life.
According to a minute entry following a final pretrial conference held on Monday, Judge Campbell indicated that the jury trial is set to begin on May 13, 2019 at 8:30 a.m., and the court has issued Preliminary Jury Instructions (PDF) that will be read at the start of the case, explaining that Tinlin will not be at the trial due to her health problems.
“Mrs. Tinlin will not be present in the courtroom for the trial, but instead will participate in portions of the trial by videoconference from her home in Wisconsin,” the jury instructions note. “Mrs. Tinlin is not attending the trial because her doctors have advised her not to travel due to medical conditions that are not related to issues in this case.”
While the outcomes of this case and other bellwether trials are not binding on remaining plaintiffs or the manufacturer, they are expected to have a big impact on any IVC filter settlements that Bard may negotiate to avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for trial nationwide.
In addition to the cases filed against Bard, another 3,750 Cook IVC filter lawsuits are centralized as part of a separate MDL, involving similar allegations of design defects. Earlier this year, an Indiana jury found that Cook Medical should be required to pay $3 million in compensatory damages.