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Leadership Roles Sought in Bard IVC Filter MDL

lawyer and jurorsSeveral attorneys who are representing plaintiffs in the Bard IVC filter multidistrict litigation (MDL) have applied for leadership roles, which would give them various responsibilities during the coordinated pretrial proceedings. Plaintiffs with cases pending in the MDL against C.R. Bard claim that the implanted medical devices can cause serious damages and even death.

On August 17, 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued a transfer order that consolidated federal IVC filter lawsuits into MDL No. 2641. The MDL is pending before U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell of the District of Arizona.

Recommendations for lead counsel

On October 1, the counsel for the plaintiffs held a meeting to determine who should apply for the role of lead counsel and liaison counsel. An attorney who has prior experience with Bard IVC filter cases was chosen to apply for the roles. He had previously worked on these cases on both the state and federal level before the centralization of cases into the MDL. Additionally, this attorney was instrumental in arguing in favor of the petition to centralize management of Bard IVC filter complaints after they failed to resolve with settlement agreements.

Risks of IVC filters made by Bard & other manufacturers

Currently, there are only a few dozen lawsuits proceeding in the MDL. It is possible that more cases will be added to the proceedings in the coming months and years. During the past 15 years, there have been nearly 1,000 adverse event reports submitted to the FDA regarding IVC filter complications.

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are implanted into patients’ blood vessel with the intention of trapping potentially life-threatening blood clots before they can reach the lungs. When blood clots form, they often do so in the deep veins of the body, typically in the legs. There, they can cause painful symptoms. However, there is also a significant risk of the blood clots breaking free and traveling to the lungs, causing pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolism is life-threatening if not treated right away. IVC filters were designed to take a proactive approach toward addressing blood clots.

However, some patients have claimed that the devices themselves can be dangerous and perhaps even life-threatening. When left in place on a long-term basis, the struts on the IVC filter may break. The filters can spontaneously migrate from the original implantation site. When this happens, they may puncture the vena cava artery or pieces of the filter may travel to the lungs or heart and inflict damage.

In 2010 and 2014, the FDA issued safety communications regarding IVC filters. The agency warned healthcare providers against leaving the filters in the body for too long. The FDA also noted that some patients have had to undergo revision surgeries to remove the filters not long after their implantation.

Next steps in the MDL

The Bard IVC filter MDL is still in its infancy. During the coming months, the parties will go through discovery. Discovery is the process of exchanging evidence. The parties may be asked to share relevant documents and the counsel may depose witnesses. Later, both sides will follow procedures for selecting a handful of bellwether cases, which will go to trial first. At any point, the parties may engage in settlement discussions.