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Cook Medical Seeks to Overturn $3M Verdict in IVC Filter Bellwether Lawsuit

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After a federal jury awarded $3 million in damages to a woman who experienced severe complications with an IVC filter, Cook Medical is calling for the U.S. District Judge presiding over thousands of similar claims to dismiss the lawsuit or order a new trial.

The case was a bellwether trial involving claims brought by Tonya Brand, who experienced problems with a Cook Celect IVC filter, a small blood clot filter designed to prevent a pulmonary embolism, which she claimed was defectively designed and failed.

A federal jury in Indiana agreed, and awarded her $3 million in compensatory damages last month.

Allegations raised during the trial are nearly identical to those to be presented in more than 5,400 other Cook IVC filter lawsuits pending in the federal court system, which have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Plaintiffs each raise similar allegations that Cook Celect, Cook Gunther Tulip or other inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, implanted to catch blood clots, are prone to migrate out of position, puncture internal organs, fracture or cause other serious health complications.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the MDL, a small group of representative cases have been selected for a “bellwether” process, which were 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.

On March 12, Cook Medical filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law (PDF) in the Brand case, arguing the verdict should be reversed since the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence for a jury to rule in her favor. The company also filed a motion for a new trial (PDF), claiming the court erred in allowing evidence which should have been inadmissible, and arguing the court allowed testimony from unqualified experts.

While the outcome of this case and other Cook IVC bellwether trials are not binding on remaining claims in the litigation, the results of this case are being closely watched and may influence any negotiations to reach IVC filter settlements which would avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to be set for trial nationwide.

In November 2017, the first Cook IVC filter case to go before a jury resulted in a defense verdict in favor of the manufacturer, and the Court granted a summary judgment motion in a second bellwether case before 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 filter migrate out of position and perforate his aorta.

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

If Cook and Bard fail to settle or otherwise resolve the claims during the MDL process, the Courts may begin remanding large numbers of claims back to U.S. District Courts throughout the country for individual trial dates in the future.

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