The judge overseeing the Cook Medical IVC litigation has chosen the second bellwether case in litigation alleging that the Cook Celect IVC (inferior vena cava) filter led to serious injury. Both sides were heard by U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young before he made the announcement. The case was selected by the judge as it was representative of the issues and injury claims in many other Cook Medical IVC cases.
It was argued by the plaintiffs’ lawyers that it was not fair to permit Cook Medical to select two bellwether cases in a row and that the Cook case the defendants favored was too similar to the case selected for the first trial in October 2017. Cook Medical has 980 lawsuits against them in the multidistrict (MDL) litigation, as of October 17, 2016.
An MDL is a type of litigation where similar lawsuits are brought together in one court before one judge frequently involving mass tort litigation where hundreds, if not more, plaintiffs file suit against a company alleging similar concerns about the same product or device. These cases are often consolidated into coordinated litigation. This type of consolidation of claims allows the litigation to go forward more efficiently and conserves court resources. The first lawsuits to go to trial in an MDL are called bellwether cases. These cases are chosen because they are representative of the majority of the litigation. The outcome of a bellwether trial may significantly influence the parties to form a settlement or may prompt them to bring additional cases to trial.
Judge Young said that in choosing the second bellwether case, 45 percent of the lawsuits involve Cook’s Gunther Tulip IVC filter and this case is the only one on the list of bellwether trial candidates involving the Gunther Tip.
The Purpose of IVC Filters
The IVC blood clot filter is a small, spider-like device meant to prevent blood clots and stop them from travelling to the heart and lungs. A blood clot could lead to a life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism (PE). The inferior vena cava (IVC) is the main vein returning blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. The filters are typically implanted in patients who, are unable to take oral blood thinning medication, such as warfarin. and may be at risk for blood clots, often a concern after surgery.
Cook Medical IVC Filter Issues and Legal Problems
Patients allege that the filters from Cook Medical as well as other manufacturers, may break or migrate from their initial location. The filters or broken fragments may puncture the vena cava or an organ, leading to pain and potentially serious damage.
The first IVC bellwether case involves a woman who had a Cook Celect IVC filter implanted in November 2010. Doctors tried to remove the filter in March 2011, but found it could not be removed. The plaintiff experienced debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms, including bowel inflammation, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue, and abdominal pain. The plaintiff had a colonoscopy that revealed that the Celect IVC Filter had perforated her vena cava and migrated into her intestines. An additional procedure was successful in removing the IVC filter.
The personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP are actively reviewing potential lawsuits on behalf of consumers who have suffered injury as a result of IVC filters.
In the second case, in April 2011, an Illinois man had a Gunther Tulip IVC filter implanted. The filter perforated his vena cava, causing him extreme pain and shortness of breath. The filter was unable to be removed as doctors considered the procedure to be too risky and therefore, remains in the patient’s body.
After more than 900 adverse event reports in 2010, and then again in 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued advisories concerning IVC filters. The FDA warned of the serious risks and advised that retrievable IVC filters be removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation, or when the danger of blood clots has subsided. Studies indicate that IVC filters may become more harmful than beneficial to the patient when they are left in the body for a period longer than two months.
In June 2016, Health Canada issued a safety alert warning that patients with IVC filters have reported severe complications, including: caval (vena cava) perforation, caval thrombosis (presence of a blood clot), filter fracture and fragment embolization (obstruction of a blood vessel), intracardiac migration, cardiac perforation, cardiac tamponade (a large amount of fluid around the heart), and death. These injuries occurred in many cases, when the filter was left implanted longer than 30 days.
Legal Help for IVC Filter Issues
Parker Waichman LLP has years of experience representing clients in personal injury lawsuits. The firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. If you or someone you know has been affected by an IVC filter, you may contact a personal injury attorney at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).