It's been a long wait for the 3,500 plaintiffs in the C.R. Bard MDL, but activity begins soon with the first Bard IVC filter bellwether lawsuit out of the gate on March 14.
Phoenix, AZWith the scheduled start of the first Bard IVC filter bellwether trial set for next month, all eyes will be on the outcome to gauge how the remaining bellwether cases might fare, and ultimately what general direction the remaining 3,500 cases in C.R. Bard multidistrict litigation may wind up taking.
The case selected for the first trial has been identified as that of plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker, a Bard recipient who received a C.R. Bard G2 IVC filter in June, 2007 and suffered various injuries and health implications as a result.
C.R. Bard isn't the only manufacturer facing IVC filter lawsuits. There are others, most notably Cook Medical, whose IVC filters have been implicated in failures associated with no fewer than 3,750 IVC filter lawsuits housed in a separate MDL. However, Bard has been vilified for not invoking an IVC filter recall when problems surfaced related to an earlier generation IVC filter, the latter remaining on the market while its successor, the Bard G2 IVC filter, was readied.
When introduced, the Bard G2 was hailed as an improvement over the previous design. Plaintiffs, however hold that the Bard G2 is, in fact not any better than its predecessor.
What is an IVC filter anyway?
IVC filters are properly known as inferior vena cava filters, spider-like devices deployed to the inferior vena cava in order to ward against the passage of blood clots. The latter can form in the lower extremities in older patients, and can travel up the inferior vena cava artery to the heart and lungs, where a blood clot can prove fatal. Blood thinners are normally administered to ward against the formation of blood clots. However, for patients who cannot tolerate blood clots or for whom anticoagulants have little value, the IVC filter was designed to rest in the inferior vena cava and entrap a migrating blood clot, preventing it from travelling to vital organs where it could do the most damage.
Originally designed as permanent devices for the most problematic of patients, IVC filters have evolved in recent years to temporary devices designed to be retrieved once the window for most serious risk of blood clot has passed.
In theory, this is workable. In practice not so much. The majority of retrievable IVC filters are either never retrieved, or retrieved well beyond the retrieval window recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some cannot be retrieved at all, due to high risk to the patient. In other cases the IVC filter has been found to fail - either by embedding and perforating the wall of the inferior vena cava, or breaking completely free from the insertion point and migrating to the heart and lungs. The spider-like struts associated with the IVC filter have also been found to break free and migrate, putting the patient at risk for serious health implications.
Plaintiffs assert they are dangerous and poorly-designed
Plaintiffs assert the devices are poorly designed and defective. C.R. Bard plaintiffs also take C.R. Bard to task for not invoking an IVC filter recall for one of its earlier products.
The C.R. Bard MDL is in the purview of presiding US District Judge David G. Campbell in the District of Arizona. Judge Campbell, in an order issued February 12, 2018 noted that the Booker bellwether trial will be conducted in two phases: a determination of liability, compensatory damages and whether the plaintiff should be awarded punitive damages followed, if necessary, by a second phase that will determine the amount of any punitive damages added to the jury award in the first phase.
Jury selection ramps up at the beginning of March, with the trial expected to begin March 14, 2018.
The case is Sherr-Una Booker v. C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., IN RE: Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation, Case No. MDL15-2641-PHX DGC, in US District Court for the District of Arizona.
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