A federal jury in Arizona has returned a verdict of $2 million in compensatory damages and another $2 million in punitive damages for a woman whose IVC blood filter broke inside her body, causing her to undergo open heart surgery for her survival. As reported by Law360, the jury found that vein filter manufacturer C.R. Bard had negligently failed to warn the plaintiff and doctors of the device’s problems despite numerous reports of IVC-filter-caused complications.

The jury’s assessment included a finding that 20% of the fault in the case was attributable to radiology errors, after a radiologist “failed to flag a visibly separated filter piece on an X-ray in 2009, before Booker’s injuries developed to the point where she needed open-heart surgery.” The remaining 80% of compensatory liability fell to Bard, such that its share of the total damages due the plaintiff is $3.6 million. Despite Bard’s arguments to the contrary, the jury also found that the surgeon who was only partially able to remove pieces of the broken IVC filter from the plaintiff’s body was not a cause of her injuries.

Multidistrict aggregate litigation that includes over 3,600 other plaintiffs injured by IVC filters they claim are defective and dangerous will continue as a small group of test cases, called “bellwethers,” will proceed over the next several months. These sample cases are intended to assess the strength and ultimate value of the multitude of injured patient claims.

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