IVC Blood Clot Filter Lawsuits Against Cook Medical Nominated for Bellwether Process

Cook Medical and plaintiffs involved in federal IVC blood clot filter lawsuits against the company have exchanged a list of bellwether cases that will be prepared for early trial dates. However, both sides indicate that the other’s selections are not representative of claims presented throughout the litigation. 

Since October 2014, all product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system over complications with Cook Celect and Cook Gunther Tulip IVC filters have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

There are currently nearly 400 complaints filed, and the number of cases is expected to grow over the coming year, as IVC filter injury lawyers review and file additional lawsuits for individuals who have experienced problems where the small, spider like devices implanted for prevention of pulmonary embolism perforated the vena cava, migrated out of position or fractured, often sending small pieces into the heart or lungs.

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Given the similar allegations raised in the claims, Judge Young previously outlined a “bellwether” process, where a small group of cases will be prepared for early trial dates, which are expected to begin after September 15, 2016. Each side was directed to nominate seven bellwether cases, and were told to select cases that best represent claims and arguments that will be presented throughout a majority of claims. However, both plaintiffs and defendants now argue that the other side failed to do so.

In the plaintiffs’ bellwether selection filing (PDF) on May 21, lawyers appointed to leadership roles for all individuals who have brought a claim point out that two of the defense picks involving Cook Gunther Tulip IVC filters, despite the majority of cases involving the Cook Celect filters. The filing also notes that one case selected by the manufacturer involves a deep vein thrombosis injury, while the main complaint raised in the litigation is that the IVC blood clot filters fracture, causing pulmonary embolisms and puncturing organs.

One of the cases selected by the defendants involves an individual who suffered from a clotting disorder, which makes the case an “outlier” and not representative of other claims, according to plaintiffs leadership attorneys. Another defense selection involves a plaintiff with a preexisting clotting condition, one involves a plaintiff who appears to have suffered no major injuries, and the seventh case involved an IVC filter that was damaged by the doctor trying to remove it, which could complicate the trial case.

“It appears from the list of defense picks that the likely reason those cases were chosen by Cook is that, as a whole and individually as well, the respective ‘defense pick’ plaintiffs either do not suffer from significant sequellae or that they have a preexisting condition or filter damage during retrieval that will be argued is iatrogenic and unrelated to any filter failure,” the plaintiffs’ brief states.

In the defense bellwether selection filing (PDF), on the other hand, the manufacturer argues that the plaintiff selections over-emphasize device fracture and open removal claims. The defendants also criticize the plaintiff picks for not including any Cook Gunther Tulip IVC fitler claims.

While the outcomes of the early bellwether trials are not binding on other cases, they will be closely watched, as they may help gauge how juries will respond to evidence and testimony that is likely to be similar to what is presented in the litigation. The bellwether process is designed to promote eventual IVC blood clot filter settlement negotiations, which may help the manufacturer avoid hundreds of individual trials in courts throughout the United States.

A similar bellwether program has been established in the federal IVC filter litigation against C.R. Bard, which manufactured and sold similarly designed blood clot filters that have also been linked to problems.

Several hundred Bard Recovery filter lawsuits and Bard G2 filter lawsuits are pending in a separate MDL, which is centralized before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona. Bellwether selections in the Bard IVC filter MDL are expected over the summer, with trials not likely to begin until at least 2017.

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