Multidistrict litigation (MDL) for IVC filter lawsuits is a legal mechanism for efficiently resolving the thousands of similar cases that stem from injuries caused by IVC filters. There are two MDLs currently pending against major IVC filter manufacturers. Both are in the midst of conducting bellwether trials, which give each side in the IVC filter lawsuit an idea of a reasonable settlement amount.
- 1. Ongoing multidistrict litigation for IVC filters
- 2. How MDLs work
- 3. Current status of IVC filter MDLs
1. Ongoing multidistrict litigation for IVC filters
There are two ongoing MDLs for lawsuits stemming from injuries caused by IVC filters: One against Cook Medical for injuries caused by their IVC filters, and another against C.R. Bard for injuries caused by IVC filters they manufactured.
Both MDLs claim that the IVC filter manufacturer failed to warn doctors and patients about the risks caused by their implantable devices, including:
- Migration of the IVC filter, including to the heart or lungs, where it could cause severe medical problems,
- The IVC filter fracturing,
- Perforation of the inferior vena cava vein and surrounding organs,
- Deep vein thrombosis,
- Cardiac tamponade, or the accumulation of fluid around the heart,
- Difficulties removing or replacing the IVC filter after it has migrated, fractured, or become clogged, and
- MRI complications caused by the IVC filter implant.
1.1 Multidistrict litigation against Cook Medical
The MDL against Cook Medical was formed in October, 2014. The formation of the MDL consolidated all of the IVC filter lawsuits currently pending against the company into one federal district court.
The location of the MDL in Indiana was largely due to the fact that the defendant in all of the cases, Cook Medical, is headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana.2
1.2 Multidistrict litigation against Bard
The MDL against Bard for injuries caused by its IVC filters was formed in August, 2015, to consolidate the hundreds of federal claims it was facing across the country.
The MDL was created in the District of Arizona, under Judge David G. Campbell.3
Arizona was chosen as the site of the MDL because Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., the Bard division responsible for the design, testing, marketing, and continued development of Bard's IVC filters was headquartered in the region.4
2. How MDLs work
MDLs work by streamlining the court process for mass tort cases. They allow victims to recover compensation more quickly and reduce the costs of the case by making the process more efficient.
Multidistrict litigation consolidates all pending federal court cases against a single defendant and for similar cases into one federal court for pretrial purposes, like:
- Discovery of evidence,
- Motions to challenge the evidence or exclude it from trial,
- Motions to dismiss the case,
- Depositions and interrogatories of important witnesses and expert witnesses, and
- Summary judgment motions.
By consolidating all of the lawsuits into one court for these steps, plaintiffs can share evidence and agents for the defendant can respond to one request for evidence, rather than thousands.
From these thousands of combined cases, MDLs frequently select several to progress all the way through a jury trial. These are bellwether trials, and provide each side in the case valuable insight into how a jury would react to representative cases in the MDL.
In many MDLs, the result of the bellwether trials will spur settlement discussions. If the parties reach an agreement, a global settlement will be made. Attorneys for the plaintiffs will then disburse the global settlement to the victims in the MDL.
If no settlement is made for the entire MDL, individual cases will then return to the district court where they were originally filed. Once there, they proceed to trial.
3. Current status of IVC filter MDLs
Each IVC filter MDL has moved steadily towards completion, but neither has reached a global settlement.
3.1 Cook Medical IVC filter MDL currently hearing bellwether trials
The MDL against Cook Medical for injuries caused by its IVC filters is in the middle of the bellwether trials:
- November 9, 2017: The first bellwether trial in the Cook Medical MDL ended in a jury verdict for Cook Medical,5
- March 15, 2018: The second bellwether trial was dismissed by the court for being time-barred by the statute of limitations,6
- February 7, 2019: The third bellwether trial in the Cook Medical MDL ended with a $3 million verdict for the victim,7
Subsequent bellwether trials are being scheduled.
As of May 15, 2019, there are 5,285 individual lawsuits consolidated in the Cook Medical MDL.8
3.2 Bard IVC filter MDL currently hearing bellwether trials
The MDL against Bard for injuries caused by its IVC filters is also in the middle of bellwether trials:
- March 30, 2018: The first bellwether trial in the Bard MDL ended with a $3.6 million verdict for the victim. $2 million of those damages came in the form of punitive damages against Bard for their conduct in covering up the dangers of its IVC filters, but the victim's recovery was reduced by 20% because the jury only found Bard 80% responsible,9
- June 1, 2018: The second bellwether trial ended in a jury verdict for Bard,10
- November 5, 2018: The third bellwether trial also ended in a jury verdict for Bard.11
A final scheduled bellwether trial is set to begin on May 13, 2019.12
As of May 15, 2019, the Bard MDL consisted of 7,370 individual lawsuits.13
“1st Cook IVC MDL Bellwether Trial Ends In Defense Verdict,” LexisNexis (November 10, 2017).
See Press Release, “Cook Medical wins quick judgment in second IVC filter litigation case, commits to continued fight for life-saving technology,” Cook Medical (March 15, 2018).
Greg Land, “Indiana Jury Awards $3M in Bellwether Trial of Cook IVC Filters,” Law.com (February 7, 2019).
Law360, “Bard Owes Injured Woman $3.6M In IVC Bellwether, Jury Finds,” Law360 (March 30, 2018).
Tina Bellon, “Jury clears Bard of liability in third IVC filter test trial,” Reuters (October 8, 2018).
See note 8.