Plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) over Cook Medical’s Celect inferior vena cava (IVC) filters asked an Indiana federal court to place all three bellwether cases on the same schedule. The plaintiffs, who allege that the company failed to warn of serious complications with the blood clot-catching devices, argue that if the first bellwether case gets delayed or canceled, the other two should be able to move ahead without further obstacles.
Law360 reports that Cook, on the other hand, wants the pretrial hearings and other deadlines to be staggered. Plaintiffs urged the court to reject this schedule, arguing that since the court has allocated the full month of October 2017 for trial, they want to ensure that these dates can be used. If, for example, the first case is settled or delayed, one of the two other cases can be ready to take its place, plaintiffs argued.
“Rolling the dice in this manner may be acceptable to Cook, who would benefit from the resulting delay, but it leaves the court with an undesirable monthlong gap in its trial schedule and leaves the hundreds of plaintiffs whose cases are pending in this MDL waiting until mid-2018, nearly two years from now, to see the first MDL case come to trial,” the plaintiffs stated, according to Law 360.
IVC filters are small, net-like devices placed in the inferior vena cava, the major vein transporting blood from the lower body back to the heart. They are designed to stop life-threatening blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs. Plaintiffs in the MDL allege that Cook failed to warn that the filters may not be able to be removed once the risk of a pulmonary embolism is no longer present. Lawsuits also allege that the devices can break, move out of place or damage blood vessel walls and nearby organs. If doctors are unable to remove the filter, then patients need to pay for anticoagulation medication. Taking blood thinners also presents an increased risk of hemorrhage, which can complicate other medical treatment, plaintiffs allege.
Plaintiffs argue that placing all three bellwether cases on the same timeline will be more efficient. They state that it will save both resources and time since “the reality is that counsel for both parties will be working on all three bellwether cases simultaneously”.
In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told health care professionals to be aware of the risks associated with leaving IVC filters long-term. The safety alert was issued after the agency received more than 900 adverse event reports involving IVC filters since 2005.