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In an attempt to resolve IVC filter lawsuits filed against Cook Medical before the first bellwether trials begin later this year, a series of three additional settlement conferences have been set for later this summer.
Since October 2014, all Cook Celect and Cook Gunther Tulip filter cases have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
There are currently about 1,500 cases centralized as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), each involving similar reports of problems with Cook inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which are small, spider-like devices implanted for individuals at risk of a pulmonary embolism.
The filters are designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the heart or lungs. However, certain retrievable devices introduced by Cook in recent years have been linked to severe complications, where the filter moved out of position, punctured the vein or fractured, often causing small pieces to travel to the heart or lungs.
As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, a series of early trial dates are set to begin in October 2017, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation over the long-term risks associated with IVC filters.
The MDL court has previously ordered the parties to meet and discuss settlement, but no resolution for the litigation has been reached.
In an order (PDF) on March 7, U.S. Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker set three additional IVC filter settlement conferences. One for Plaintiffs’ counsel on July 26; one for Defendants’ counsel, as well as representatives with settlement authority on August 4, and a follow-up for Plaintiffs’ counsel on August 9.
The conferences will involve confidential discussions about the status of cases, discovery and trial preparation, as well as candid assessments of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each sides case in the litigation, as well as proposed settlement frameworks that may avoid the need for the bellwether trials later this year.
In addition to Cook IVC filter lawsuits, 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.
Following coordinated pretrial proceedings in the MDLs and any early “bellwether” trials, if the parties fail to reach IVC filter settlements or otherwise resolve large numbers of cases, hundreds of individual lawsuits may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.