The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has transferred additional IVC filter lawsuits to the federal multidistrict litigations established for injury claims filed against C.R. Bard, Inc. and Cook Medical, Inc.
More than 2,200 product liability lawsuits alleging injury due to C.R. Bard’s Recovery, G2, Meridian, and Denali retrievable IVC (inferior vena cava) filters are already pending in a consolidated litigation currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona. The JPML sent two additional cases to Arizona on Tuesday, after the Panel refused to vacate earlier orders conditionally transferring the claims to the proceeding.
In seeking to vacate the conditional transfer, plaintiffs had argued, among other things, that their cases included unique medical negligence claims against their healthcare providers. They further asserted that transfer would cause them prejudice, undue delay, and inconvenience. However, the Panel rejected those arguments.
“The presence of medical negligence claims in these actions does not negate the efficiencies promoted by transfer,” the Panel’s August 1st Transfer Order stated. “Products liability cases usually involve some plaintiff-specific factual issues, and these are not a bar to transfer.”
The Panel also refused to vacate the conditional transfer of a single Cook Medical IVC lawsuit, sending the case to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, where more than 2,400 similar claims are pending. In moving to vacate, plaintiffs had argued that transfer unduly burdens them while removing any burden from defendants. However, the JPML noted that the motion to vacate not did specify any particular inconvenience the plaintiffs would suffer, and instead suggested that transfer will result in a general imbalance of fairness.
“We find this argument unpersuasive,” the JPML wrote. “The Panel repeatedly has held that, while it might inconvenience some parties, transfer of an action often is necessary to further the expeditious resolution of the litigation taken as a whole.”
IVC filters resemble small, wire cages. They are implanted in the inferior vena cava in patients at risk for pulmonary embolism who cannot take standard blood-thinning medications. Once in place, the filters block blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs.
Plaintiffs who have filed IVC filter lawsuits against Cook Medical and C.R. Bard allege that the companies’ devices are prone to fracture, migration and other problems that can result in life-threatening complications. They also claim that the defendants failed to properly warn doctors about the importance of removing retrievable IVC filters one a patient is no longer at risk for pulmonary embolism.
In 2010, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) disclosed that it had received more than 900 reports of IVC filter complications related to retrievable products, including incidents of migration, embolization, perforation of the inferior vena cava, and fracture. Four years later, the agency issued a second alert urging doctors to remove temporary blood clot filters within 29 to 54 days of their implantation in order to reduce the risk of patient harm.