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Lawsuit Over Fractured Bard IVC Filter Can Proceed to Trial Next Month, Judge Rules

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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Bard IVC filter lawsuits has cleared the way for another bellwether trial to begin next month, after denying an attempt by the manufacturer to dismiss all claims.

There are currently more than 7,000 product liability cases pending before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), each involving allegations that plaintiffs suffered painful complications with IVC filters manufactured by C.R. Bard, including reports that the retrievable blood clot filters moved out of position, punctured internal organs or fractured, causing small pieces to travel throughout the body.

Given similar questions of fact and law presented in the cases, Judge Campbell has scheduled a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

After mixed results in prior cases, including a $3.6 million verdict in the first trial, and defense verdicts in two other claims, a lawsuit filed by Debra Tinlin is set to go before a jury next month.

Tinlin received a Bard Recovery filter in 2005, which subsequently fractured, resulting in small pieces reaching the right ventricle of her heart. As a result of the complications, Tinlin required several additional medical procedures, including surgical removal of a fractured IVC filter strut from her heart. However, scans have revealed that other struts from the Bard Recovery IVC filter perforated her inferior vena vaca wall, and pieces were found in her pulmonary arteries that can not be removed, leaving her with permanent and potentially life-threatening heath risks.

C.R. Bard attempted to avoid trial, by filing a motion for summary judgment. However, in an order (PDF) issued on April 16, Judge Campbell rejected that request to dismiss the lawsuit, allowing claims for failure to warn, design defect, concealment, and loss of consortium to proceed to a jury.

Judge Campbell said there was plenty of evidence that could convince a jury that Tinlin’s doctor would not have implanted the Bard Recovery filter in her, had he been adequately informed of the device’s actual risks.

“[The doctor] stated that he would have wanted to know about the Recovery’s alleged higher risks of failure, and that Bard did not understand the root causes, did not have a good understanding of the long-term performance of its retrievable filters or the dynamics of the IVC, had placed the Recovery on hold due to migration problems, and internally found the Recovery to have unacceptable risks,” Judge Campbell wrote. “This information would have been important for understanding the Recovery’s safety and conducting a proper risk-benefit analysis.”

As a result of the decision, the bellwether trial for Tinlin’s claims is expected to begin on May 13.

While the outcomes of these early test cases are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are expected to have a big impact on any IVC filter settlement negotiations to avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for trial nationwide.

In addition to the cases filed against Bard, another 3,750 Cook IVC filter lawsuits are centralized as part of a separate MDL, involving similar allegations of design defects. Last week, an Indiana jury found that Cook Medical should be required to pay $3 million in compensatory damages to one plaintiff, and is still considering additional punitive damages during a second phase of the on-going trial.

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