Once a judge consolidates similar lawsuits under a multidistrict litigation, he or she also selects cases for bellwether trials. These cases test available evidence viability and jury reaction, providing a benchmark for future trials. Three IVC filter bellwether trials are scheduled for this year. All three plaintiffs received IVC filters manufactured by Cook Medical. The outcomes of these IVC filter bellwether trials will set a precedent for hundreds of product liability lawsuits currently pending.
Cook Medical Named in IVC Filter Bellwether Trials
Cook Medical makes 16,000 different products used globally. Cook’s Günther Tulip and Celect filters both feature in this year’s IVC filter bellwether trials. These filters are surgically implanted within the inferior vena cava, which happens to be the largest vein in your body. These cage-shaped filters catch blood clots before they can travel to your lungs or heart. However, IVC filters are infamous for injuries like organ perforation or pieces breaking off and migrating throughout the body. Many patients allege that Cook devices are defective. As a result, a federal judge scheduled several upcoming IVC filter bellwether trials.
A 2013 study evaluated Celect, Gunther Tulip and Greenfield (made by Boston Scientific) filters and compared their complication rates. Researchers observed the following perforation rates via CT scan: 49% with Celect, Tulip showed 43%, and only 2% for Greenfield. Another study compared retrieval rates between Celect and Option IVC filters (made by Rex Medical). Retrieval rates for both filters were similar after two months, but Celect filters had a significantly higher strut perforation rate.
Commonalities Among Three IVC Filter Bellwether Trials
Judge Young in the Southern District of Indiana chose these IVC filter bellwether trials. Common allegations include defective device design, marketing claim misrepresentation, and failure to adequately warn doctors and patients about injury risks. The first case set for trial represents Florida plaintiff Elizabeth Hill. Hill suffered severe pain shortly after her IVC filter placement. However, doctors couldn’t immediately remove Hill’s filter because it punctured a vein and became imbedded in her intestine. In fact, the plaintiff still suffers from IVC filter injury complications today. Her lawsuit alleges that Cook knowingly failed to warn patients as well as surgeons about IVC filter complication risks.
Another source of patient frustration: Studies insisting there’s no proof that IVC filters are effective enough to risk dangerous complications. A meta-analysis concluded that IVC filters can be helpful, but “the strength of evidence is low.” Moreover, researchers aren’t sure which patient population consistently sees enough benefits to outweigh any potential IVC filter risks. Others say we must conduct more clinical trials and produce evidence-based data for future studies.
What You Can Do
Medical device manufacturers have a responsibility to be honest with consumers about the risks of using their products. If you or someone you love suffered a Cook IVC filter injury, get the help you deserve today. Fill out your free IVC filter claim review now to see if you may qualify for financial compensation.