In recent years, there have been a large number of mass tort lawsuits involving Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) filters. An IVC filter is a vascular device placed in the inferior vena cava vein which prevents blood clots from moving into the lungs. Plaintiffs filing lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturers claim the devices have caused serious organ damage. Damage allegations range from device movement and fracture, embolization, infection and tissue/organ perforation.
Manufacturer and Governmental Response
IVC filter manufacturers have had mixed reactions to allegations of device defects. Boston Scientific and B. Braun have both issued recalls while Cordis Cook Medical has not recalled its IVC filters, even amid problematic reports.
Additionally, Bard has declined to recall their IVC filters named in most of the 3,800 IVC filter lawsuits the company now faces. Instead, Bard replaced the filter with a new model called the G2. The decision to keep these products on the market has made Bard and Cook Medical primary targets for damage lawsuits secondary to IVC filters.
According to court documents, each of these companies knew their products were defective and continued to sell them without informing doctors and patients of the risks. The plaintiffs claim these companies are liable for the harm done to them and their loved ones because they failed to inform patients of the dangers related to the products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also taken action during the last 10 years. The federal agency issued an IVC filter safety communication in 2009 and updated the warning in 2014. More updates are forthcoming as IVC filter recalls continue.
The Damages Incurred
The plaintiff attorneys are seeking the following damages for their clients based on the harm caused by IVC filters:
- Past and future medical expenses that result from injuries caused by the IVC filters
- Past and future pain and suffering (physical and mental) caused by IVC filter injuries and the treatment/ recovery process
- Wage losses
- Future incapacity to earn money
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Punitive damages when appropriate
IVC Filter Lawsuit Claims
Lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturers accuse the companies of:
- Designing, producing, and promoting defective medical devices
- Marketing unreasonably dangerous products to medical professionals and consumers
- Failing to provide adequate product defects and health risks
- Disregarding the health and safety of product recipients to serve their own financial interests
- Failing to prevent foreseeable patient harm
- Failing to disclose knowledge of device defects and dangers
The discovery of concealed information has been particularly devastating for the public opinion of IVC manufacturers. In terms of perception by jurors, concealment can be crucial for settling a case in favor plaintiffs.
Ongoing IVC Litigation
At least 15,800 IVC filter lawsuits have now been filed against various manufacturers. None have settled to date.
In one case decided in March 2018, a Phoenix jury found Bard 80% responsible for the injuries suffered by a woman who claimed an IVC filter fractured in her body. The company was ordered to pay $3.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiff’s counsel was able to incorporate the concealment issue into their argument and press for a higher damages settlement.
As a result, Bard and Cook Medical have now agreed to individual IVC filter lawsuit settlements for undisclosed amounts. Settlement amounts are likely to be known to the public by spring 2020. Along with mounting settlements, the risk of defending these cases has also increased.
In addition, a federal panel is now combining lawsuits against each company into multidistrict litigations (MDLs). This moves all related IVC filter lawsuits through the federal court system more efficiently. It also makes it easier for a plaintiff’s attorney to pool their resources with other like-minded firms.
Public relations remains the primary reason for these settlements. As the general public learns more about the potential harm of IVC devices, the fact that companies were avoiding any recall to preserve their profits and images is increasingly troubling.
Taking on an IVC Lawsuit?
Any mass tort firm considering filing lawsuits against IVC filter companies should consider hiring the best possible experts. Professionals with experience in medical device manufacturing and warning policies can help establish causation and damages in IVC cases. Above all, they can provide the best information and testimony possible for a plaintiff’s courtroom victory. Likewise, experts can be used by the defense to rebut any plaintiff lawsuits which are without merit or lacking any appropriate damages.
Of course, only time will tell the extent of liabilities pinned onto IVC filter manufacturers as more settlements are revealed in the coming months.