Arizona’s first federal IVC filter trial against C.R. Bard ruled in the plaintiff’s favor on March 30, 2018. A jury found Bard 80% liable for Sherr-Una Booker’s life-threatening IVC filter injuries. With over 3,500 claims still pending under MDL 2641, Booker’s bellwether case verdict may set the tone for future filter trial outcomes. District Judge David G. Campbell will preside over three more bellwether filter trial cases later this year.
Filter Trial Splits Liability Between Bard, Radiologist for Woman’s Internal Puncture Injuries
After a 6.5-hour deliberation, the jury ordered Bard to pay $1.6 million in actual damages. Immediately after that ruling, jurors also ordered Bard to pay Booker $2 million in punitive damages. However, the court ruled Bard wasn’t solely to blame for Booker’s severe internal injuries.
A surgeon originally placed the retrievable Bard G2 inferior vena cava filter in 2007. Then in 2009, an x-ray revealed fractured G2 fragments inside Booker’s inferior vena cava. The radiologist failed to flag the visible metal shard while updating Booker’s medical records. Shortly after that, metal pieces traveled through Booker’s body, eventually perforating her spine and heart. As a result, Booker needed open-heart surgery in 2014. Despite removing larger device fragments, a few metal shards remain in the plaintiff’s body today. Filter trial jurors found her radiologist responsible for the remaining 20%, and therefore liable for paying Booker $400,000 in damages.
How Do IVC Filters Work?
Device manufacturer Bard uses thin metal wire to form tiny, cage-shaped devices. Surgeons then implant these devices into the inferior vena cava (IVC) to help catch and dissolve blood clots. IVC filters can help reduce a patient’s risk for pulmonary embolism (PE) and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT). However, recent studies show these common heart devices aren’t safer or better for PE patients than ordinary blood thinners.
In fact, these blood clot filters can cause the exact same injuries they’re designed to prevent. In a subject group with 400 PE patients, 3% that received IVC filters suffered fatal embolisms within six months. Only 1.5% in the blood thinner group suffered an embolism in that same period. However, just one subject in the control group died from recurrent pulmonary embolism complications.
IVC Filter Trial Allegations Include Failure to Warn, Product Liability and Negligence
In August 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an IVC filter warning for consumers. The agency updated that warning in 2014, advising that doctors should remove these filters between 29 and 54 days after placement. After the FDA issued its last warning in 2014, blood clot filter placements in America declined significantly (about 29%).
But for patients like Booker, those warnings came too late. Filter trial allegations against Bard from Booker and other injured filter patients include:
- Failure to warn. Many patients say their doctors didn’t warn them these devices could cause harm if left in permanently.
- Product liability. Plaintiffs allege that Bard knew their devices were defective but kept selling them anyway. This is because the FDA issued a statement saying it received at least 900 injury reports from 2004 to 2010 involving IVC filters.
- Negligence. Filter trial plaintiffs allege Bard knew its G2 filters were defective going back to 2005. However, Bard marketed various G2 filter models to consumers through 2010, despite 27 deaths and countless injury reports.
Opening statements in the second bellwether filter trial against Bard should begin on May 15, 2018.
How Injured IVC Filter Victims Can Get Justice and Compensation
If you or someone you love experienced complications after IVC filter implantation, you may qualify for a cash settlement. In 2014, the FDA issued guidelines suggesting doctors monitor IVC filter patients immediately after placing retrievable devices. These filters are temporary, which means your doctor should remove it as soon as your risk for PE or DVT subsides. Ideally, your filter should come out between 29 and 54 days after implantation for safety reasons. The longer it stays in your body, the more likely you are to suffer device-related complications. Here’s what heart patients should know about filter injury risks:
- The entire device can tilt and come loose in your inferior vena cava (the largest blood vessel inside your body)
- The filter can travel throughout your body, causing internal damage wherever it goes (i.e., “migration”)
- Flexible wire legs (or “struts”) can also break off into smaller fragments and harm you
- Thin metal shards can easily puncture nearby organs, tissue and blood vessels
- Metal pieces can get stuck in your heart, vena cava or other major organs (which is often fatal)
- The longer your blood-clot filter stays in, the harder it is for your doctor to remove it entirely
- Embedded metal fragments can cause increasingly severe injuries over time, including blood clots, strokes, embolisms, internal bleeding and death
To check your eligibility for compensation online, fill out your free IVC filter claim review form today. Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer with filter trial experience will call to discuss your case.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.