IVC Filter Settlement Conferences Scheduled For Group of Cases in Cook MDL

As a growing number of IVC filter lawsuits continue to be filed against Cook Medical in the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the recently established federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) has indicated that a series of settlement conferences will be held involving a small group of cases early next year.

Since October 2014, all Cook Celect and Cook Gunther Tulip IVC filter lawsuits have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young in the Southern District of Indiana for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

The cases involve problems with inferior vena cava (IVC) filters, which are small, spider-like devices implanted for individuals at risk of a pulmonary embolism. They are designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the heart or lungs. However, certain retrievable filters introduced in recent years, which are designed to be removed once the risk of a blood clot has passed, have been linked to reports of severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

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All of the complaints centralized before Judge Young involve similar allegations, where individuals experienced complications after a Cook blood clot filter moved out of position, punctured the vein or fractured, often causing small pieces to travel to the heart or lungs.

The litigation is consolidated as part of an MDL for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicate discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

According to a minutes entry (PDF) issued following a telephone status conference earlier this month, Judge Young has scheduled a series of Cook IVC settlement conferences for February 16, 17 and 18, 2016, at which time the parties are expected to negotiate cases chosen from a pool of lawsuits going through case-specific discovery. Judge Young indicates that the protocol for selecting the cases will be determined at a later date.

As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, it is expected that a series of early trial dates will be scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony over the long-term risks associated with the IVC filters. However, it appears that the settlement conferences have been scheduled in an attempt to determine whether a resolution can be reached relatively early in the litigation.

In addition to Cook IVC filter lawsuits, there are also a large number of Bard Recovery filter lawsuits and Bard G2 filter lawsuits pending nationwide. Last week, similar MDL proceedings were established for all cases against Bard involving their retrievable IVC filters. Those cases are 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, the cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for hundreds of individual trial dates.


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