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After awarding $3 million in compensatory damages earlier this month in a federal trial involving problems with the Cook Select IVC filter, a jury from Indiana declined to award additional punitive damages against the manufacturer of the device designed to prevent blood clots from causing a pulmonary embolism.
The case has been closely watched as a “bellwether” for how juries may respond in other blood clot filter lawsuits filed by thousands of individuals nationwide, involving design defects associated with various retrievable IVC filters manufactured and sold by Cook Medical, C.R. Bard and other companies.
On February 1, the jury awarded $3 million in the first phase of a trial involving claims brought by Tonya Brand, finding that a Cook Celect IVC filter she received was defectively designed, and caused her to suffer serious injuries. As a result of the findings, the case went into a punitive damages phase, to determine whether additional money should be awarded to punish Cook Medical for their reckless disregard for the safety of consumers. However, according to a judgment (PDF) issued on February 12 the jury declined to order award any additional damages.
Allegations raised at trial are nearly identical to those that will be presented in more than 4,700 other Cook blood clot 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 allege 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 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 Cook IVC filter 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 a 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 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 negotiate IVC filter settlements or another resolution for the litigation, large numbers of claims may be remanded back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for individual trial dates in the future.