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Cook IVC Filter Settlement Negotiations Continuing in Federal MDL

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According to recent court filings, Cook Medical and plaintiffs lawyers are continuing settlement negotiations in an attempt to resolve IVC filter lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, as additional “bellwether” claims are being prepared for early trial dates.

There are currently more than 4,700 product liability cases filed against Cook Medical in U.S. District Courts nationwide, each involving similar allegations that Cook Celect, Cook Gunther Tulip or other inferior vena cava (IVC) filters were defectively designed and prone to migrate out of position, puncture internal organs, fracture or cause other serious health complications.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the lawsuits 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.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, a small group of representative cases have been selected for a “bellwether” process, which are being prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the litigation.

In November 2017, the first case to go before a jury resulted in a defense verdict, and the manufacturer was able to convince the Court to grant a summary judgment motion in the second bellwether trial. However, in May 2018, a Texas jury awarded $1.2 million in damages, in a claim brought on behalf of a Houston firefighter who had a Cook blood clot filter migrate out of position and perforate his aorta.

While additional cases are being prepared for early trial dates, the parties have been continuing negotiations over potential IVC filter settlements that may avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to eventually be set for trial in courts nationwide.

According to an order (PDF) issued on November 5, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim Baker met with the parties last week for a settlement conference. While discussions were help, the judge reports that no settlement was reached. However, the parties were directed to continue discussions and report back to the Court on the progress of negotiations.

In addition to Cook IVC filter lawsuits, there are also a large number of Bard Recovery filter lawsuitsand Bard G2 filter lawsuits pending in a separate MDL, which is centralized before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in Arizona.

Early trials have also been scheduled against Bard, with the first Bard IVC bellwether case ending in a $3.6 million award, after a federal jury found that the manufacturer recklessly disregarded the safety of consumers who received the devices. However, other cases have resulted in defense verdicts after plaintiffs were unable to establish that their injuries were caused by design defects with the IVC filter.

If Cook and Bard are unable to resolve cases during settlement negotiations, the Courts may begin remanding large numbers of claims back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for individual trial dates in the future.

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