Jury Awards Woman Over $3 Million For IVC Filter Complications

Legal NewsMedical Devices

A woman who claimed that her IVC filter, manufactured by C.R. Bard, fractured and embedded in her heart, was awarded $3.3 million by a Wisconsin federal jury last Thursday. 

Plaintiff Natalie Johnson, had the surgical device, which is designed to prevent blood clots, implanted in 2013. Law360.com reports Johnson had the device implanted prophylactically due to her varicose veins.  

The trial lasted nine days. The jury found that Bard was liable for failing to warn of the potential risks of the medical device, which was sold under the brand name, Meridian. However, Bard was not found liable for negligence nor design claims. 

Attorneys for Bard argued that Johnson should not have received damages due to the fact that the jury found Bard not liable for negligence. 

But those damages were not punitive, rather they were compensatory, countered the plaintiff’s attorneys, who have been successful in obtaining two other IVC filter jury verdicts recently. 

“Three different juries in three different states have unanimously found that the Bard IVC filters in question all had an unacceptable safety profile that caused serious harm to our clients,” Johnson said, per Law360.com. 

Johnson’s suit was originally filed in 2019, and was part of a sprawling nationwide multidistrict litigation (MDL) centered in Arizona. But after Bard settled thousands of IVC filter suits, Johnson’s case went back to federal court in Wisconsin. 

Three IVC suits in the MDL went to trial. Bard was found not liable in two of the three trials, but in one of the three, a jury awarded over $3.5 million to the plaintiff. 

Johnson alleged that she developed abdominal pain just three days after the implantation of the medical device. A CT scan revealed that the filter was already out of position and had created a tear in her inferior vena cava, which carries blood from the lower body. 

One year after the procedure, an X-ray revealed the device had migrated even more; two of the device’s struts had lodged, one in the inferior vena cava and another in the right ventricle of the heart. 

The device was unsuccessfully removed in 2014. Another surgeon was able to remove the filter and one of the lodged struts in 2019; the one lodged in Johnson’s heart was not removed. Although the filter was able to be removed, the surgical procedure caused the embedding of a strut in the vena cava wall, which was also left in place, because of the high risk of having it removed. 

Per Law360.com, the court filing said, “Removal of the strut in the right ventricle would likely require open-heart surgery, risking significant morbidity and death. As a result, Ms. Johnson suffers from extreme anxiety about the possible harm the struts that remain in her body could cause.”

Bard tried arguing that Johnson’s injuries were largely emotional in nature.

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