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Lawsuits over faulty surgically-implanted inferior vena cava (IVC) filters were one of the most active mass tort litigations during 2018-19. But like practically all other legal proceedings, IVC trials slowed to a crawl if not a total standstill because of the pandemic.
IVC filter litigation, involving thousands of lawsuits, appears to have come back to life. In fact, in 2021 alone, three cases that have gone to trial returned plaintiff verdicts, including one in June that awarded a Wisconsin woman more than $3 million after a jury found that Bard’s Meridian IVC filter caused the woman to develop life-threatening complications.
The woman suffered a punctured vein within days of the implantation of the filter, which is used in people who are prone to developing blood clots but are unable to take blood-thinning medication.
Also in 2021, plaintiffs verdicts included a $926,000 award returned by an Oregan jury and a $2.5 million verdict returned by a Texas jury.
There is more than one manufacturer of IVC filters who have faced or are currently facing lawsuits: Bard, Cook and Cordis.
Cook won the first IVC filter trial in 2017. The second case to be scheduled for trial, in March 2018, was thrown out by the judge presiding over the consolidation of cases (known as multidistrict litigation). The judge tossed the case after ruling that the plaintiff waited too long to file a complaint. But later that month, in the third IVC filter trial—and the first case to go to trial against Bard—a jury returned a $3.6 million verdict for the plaintiff.
Bard then one three trials in a row before settling in the fifth trial. Terms of the settlement, which was reached in May 2019, were not disclosed. Prior to the settlement, a plaintiff was awarded $3 million by a jury in the third Cook IVC filter lawsuit that went to trial.
In 2015, Bard was accused by the FDA of failing to report events of its failed IVC filter that caused either serious injury or death. The very first IVC filter lawsuit—Davis v. Bard—was filed in 2011 and settled two years later. Other manufacturers such as Boston Scientific have been named as defendants in IVC filter lawsuits, which has developed into one of the most complex mass torts, involving more than one MDL.
The Bard MDL was closed in 2019. However, patients harmed by any of Bard’s myriad IVC filters can still pursue legal action. IVC filter MDLs still open are Cook (the lawsuits are consolidated in Indiana); Rex and Argon (Pennsylvania); and Boston Scientific (Ohio).
WIll new IVC filter lawsuits go to trial in 2022? Will plaintiffs continue their winning streak? Will IVC filter manufacturers reach a settlement? Only time will tell.