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Cook IVC Filter Litigation Centralized in Federal Court System

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has decided to consolidate all Cook IVC filter lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, centralizing the litigation before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Following oral arguments heard earlier this month, a transfer order (PDF) was issued Wednesday, establishing a federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana.

The MDL will include all product liability lawsuits involving complications with Cook inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which are small spider-like devices implanted to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs and causing a pulmonary embolisms.

There are currently at least 32 complaints filed nationwide, raising similar allegations that design defects with Cook Celect and Gunther Tulip filters make the devices prone to fracture, migrate, tilt or perforate the inferior vena cava.

According to the lawsuits, an April 2012 study published in the medical journal Cardiovascular Interventional Radiology found that 100% of Cook Celect and Gunther Tulip IVC filters perforated patients’ venal caval wall within 71 days of being implanted. The study also found that 40% of the filters became tilted and out of position.

Cook IVC Filter MDL

In complex product liability litigation, where a large number of lawsuits are filed in courts throughout the country involving similar injuries associated with the same medical device or medication, it is common for MDL proceedings to be established to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting rulings from different Courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.

Cook Medical opposed centralization of the IVC filter lawsuits, arguing that the unique facts surrounding each case will predominate the litigation, and that the various different models of Cook IVC filter lawsuits involved in the cases reduce the overlapping discovery in the cases.

The U.S. JPML rejected these arguments, finding that while individual issues of fact are presented in all product liability cases, the litigation will benefit from centralized management, since the actions “do share paramount issues concerning the design, manufacture, testing, and marketing of a single medical device.”

As IVC injury lawyers continue to review and file new claims in the future, it is expected that the size of the Cook MDL will continue to grow.

Judge Young will likely prepare a small group of cases in the MDL for early trial dates. Known as “bellwether” cases, these trials will be designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcomes of these trials are not binding in other cases, they may influence potential settlements for the Cook IVC filter lawsuits without the need for dozens of trials to be scheduled throughout the country.

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