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IVC Filter Lawsuits

scales of justiceHaving first reached the market in 1979, the retrievable inferior vena cava filter (IVC filter) is a small medical device which is intended to stop dangerous blood clots from making their way to the lungs of patients in which they have been implanted. Essentially a small cage that can be surgically placed into a vein, IVC filters have been considered to be extremely useful in mitigating the risk of clot migration in those who are unable to use conventional blood thinning drugs for one reason or other.

Hundreds of thousands of IVC filters have been placed in patients since their introduction, but in recent years, concern has grown about the dangers they may pose, including vein punctures, uncontrollable bleeding events and device migration within the body. As a result, more and more individuals have filed or are considering filing an IVC filter lawsuit as a means to secure financial compensation for harm they have sustained and to help boost public awareness of serious risks the devices may present.

Lawsuits allege life-threatening complications

As escalating numbers of patients begin to file lawsuits in the aftermath of experiencing IVC filter complications, the types of issues these devices are presenting continue to become clear.

The FDA has issued safety communications that caution of the following risks:

  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Aortic perforations
  • Punctures of the vena cava
  • Device migration
  • Filter fractures
  • Filter embolization (breaking off of device components)

A significant number of plaintiffs in IVC filter lawsuits have claimed that the devices were originally intended for use only in patients with histories of pulmonary embolism risk and for whom traditional blood thinning drugs were not an option. However, physicians have been placing IVC filters in patients who meet neither of those criteria.

Other plaintiffs have begun to point out that despite the fact that retrievable IVC filers were designed to be temporary in nature, many physicians have allowed the devices to remain implanted in patients far longer than is necessary or safe, frequently leading to undue risk and in numerous cases, the eventual development of pulmonary embolism.

Compensation available through litigation

Pulmonary embolism events are responsible for roughly 300,000 fatalities annually, making the threat very real. Given the seriousness of the danger, those pursuing lawsuits against the manufacturers of IVC filters may seek compensation for:

  • Current, past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical suffering and pain
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Funeral expenses in cases where death occurred

Not only are plaintiffs seeking financial compensation, many feel they have a vested interest in holding device manufacturers accountable for carelessly disregarding public safety and putting patients at such serious risk of harm.

Current status of IVC filter lawsuits

With the number of adverse event reports on the rise, IVC filter lawsuits are continuing to accumulate nationwide, with attorneys reviewing potential cases on an ongoing basis. The volume of lawsuits has grown so significantly that all litigation pertaining to Cook Celect and Gunther Tulip filters has been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. In addition, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is currently considering a request for the creation of another MDL to oversee all federal  Bard IVC filter lawsuits.

By centralizing litigation known to involve similar allegations, fact patterns and legal arguments, it is hoped that judicial economy, consistency in the discovery and pretrial processes and fruitful settlement discussions can be achieved. In each MDL, a series of early bellwether trials may be held to help the parties assess the reaction of juries to legal positions, key evidence and expert testimony, and to foster settlement negotiations whenever possible.

Future of Cook and Bard IVC filter litigation

While it remains unknown precisely how many plaintiffs will eventually file an IVC filter lawsuit to secure compensation for injuries sustained following device implantation, it is widely expected that litigation against Bard and Cook will continue to build in the coming months and even years.

Product liability attorneys across the country are conducting thorough reviews of individual fact patterns on behalf of prospective clients and will initiate new filings on an ongoing basis.

  1. JAMA Internal Medicine, Prevalence of Fracture and Fragment Embolization of Bard Retrievable Vena Cava Filters and Clinical Implications Including Cardiac Perforation and Tamponade,

  2. Cleveland Clinic, Inferior Vena Cava (IVC) Filter Removal,

  3. U.S. Food and Drig Administration, Removing Retrievable Inferior Vena Cava Filters: FDA Safety Communication,

  4. United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, MDL Case Information – MDL No. 2570 IN RE: Cook Medical, Inc., IVC Filers Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigaiton,