Injured patients have filed thousands of lawsuits against the manufacturers of inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. These lawsuits allege that manufacturers willfully hid evidence that many of the filters are defective and dangerous.
However, while at least one federal plaintiff has received a multimillion-dollar verdict, others have faced major challenges in litigation. Below, the medical device lawyers at Phelan Petty assess the state of IVC filter injury claims and explain what you should do if one of these devices has harmed you or someone you love.
Why Are IVC Filters Dangerous?
An IVC filter is a metal device that doctors surgically implant in a patient’s inferior vena cava, which is the largest vein in the human body. The devices are supposed to prevent pulmonary embolisms, which occur when a blood clot travels to the heart and lungs and causes a potentially fatal blockage.
While IVC filters can save lives, they also come with many potential risks:
- Doctors can improperly insert the device, injuring the patient or limiting the filter’s effectiveness
- The device can migrate in the body, allowing blood clots to pass through the patient’s veins and into the lungs
- When IVC filters fracture or migrate, they can puncture organs and veins
- It can be difficult to retrieve the filters, especially if they break into small fragments
Unfortunately, these complications are relatively common. Between 2005 and 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received more than 900 complaints about IVC filter failures and resulting injuries.
RELATED ARTICLE: NBC Exposes Bard IVC Filters
As complaints about IVC filters flowed in during these years, FDA officials became increasingly worried about whether the filters were safe. In 2010 and again in 2014, the FDA encouraged doctors to start removing retrievable IVC filters as soon as patients were no longer at risk for pulmonary embolism. However, by 2012, U.S. doctors had already inserted roughly 259,000 IVC filters in patients, and many of those patients eventually experienced complications from their filters.
RELATED ARTICLE: Blood Clot Patients at Risk from Xarelto and IVC Filters
By 2018, thousands of patients had filed lawsuits against the two primary manufacturers of IVC filters, C.R. Bard and Cook Medical. Due to the large number of lawsuits, the cases were consolidated into multi-district litigation for the sake of simplicity and efficiency. The court selected a series of plaintiffs to serve as “bellwether cases” that would test the overall strength of the plaintiffs’ claims.
An Arizona Jury Awards a Victim Millions in Damages, But Other IVC Claims Falter
In March 2018, a jury in Phoenix, Ariz., sent shockwaves through the world of medical device litigation when they awarded a woman $2 million in compensatory damages after a Bard IVC filter broke inside her body. The jury also awarded $1.6 million in punitive damages to punish C.R. Bard for negligent conduct. While the victim’s lawyers presented multiple legal arguments during the case, the jury said they focused on the victim’s allegation that Bard failed to warn her about the potential dangers of IVC filters.
However, other IVC filter claims have failed to deliver similar results. Claims against Cook Medical, which are being heard in a federal court in Indiana, have overwhelmingly been rejected so far. Still, there are signs that the verdict in Arizona wasn’t a fluke: one plaintiff in Texas won a state law claim against Cook and received a jury award of $1.2 million for his injuries.
More recently, a federal jury sided with Bard in a bellwether case. The jury said that the manufacturer had provided users adequate warning about the potential risks associated with IVC filters. At the end of this case, the plaintiff’s lawyer claimed that evidence of earlier device failures and fatalities had been improperly withheld from the jury and promised to file an appeal.
IVC Filter Injury Claims Require Detailed Analysis From an Experienced Medical Device Lawyer
As evidenced by the uphill battle IVC filter plaintiffs have faced so far, defective medical device claims are not an area for lawyers who want to dabble. These claims are highly technical, and they require extremely detailed investigation and analysis of the law, the device, and the victim’s medical records. A single misstep can result in an unfavorable verdict or even the outright dismissal of a claim.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of an IVC filter, you need to give your claim the best chance of success by hiring an experienced product liability attorney who understands the nuances of medical device claims. When you consult a lawyer who wants to handle your case, don’t hesitate to ask them about:
- How frequently they handle product liability claims
- How familiar they are with IVC technology, its dangers, and the defenses that companies like Bard and Cook are presenting
- Whether they have existing relationships with medical and technical experts who can help identify IVC defects and calculate your damages
At Phelan Petty, our team includes attorneys who specialize in handling catastrophic product liability and medical malpractice claims, both of which can arise out of an IVC filter surgery. Because we focus our practice on helping the seriously injured victims who need our help the most, we have the time, resources, and expertise needed to investigate and develop your medical device claim.
Phelan Petty: We Fight for IVC Filter Victims
At Phelan Petty, we assist injured victims by providing tireless representation, detailed investigations, and sophisticated litigation strategies. To make sure we can give every client our full attention, we only handle the most complex personal injury claims, including those that involve IVC filters and other defective medical devices.
Deso, S., Idakoji, I., & Kuo, W. (2016, June). Evidence-based evaluation of inferior vena cava filter complications based on filter type. Seminars in Interventional Radiology, 33(2), 93–100. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862854/
Hart, A. (2018, June 4). Georgia patient loses national lawsuit over broken medical implant. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved from https://www.myajc.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/georgia-patient-loses-national-lawsuit-over-broken-medical-implant/zF4OqbkNp4Bmje3BcgU03H/
Removing retrievable inferior vena cava filters: FDA safety communication. (2014, May 6.). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20170722215731/https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm396377.htm
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.