2015 Case Consolidations
In August 2015, all retrievable IVC filter cases in federal court against C.R. Bard, the largest manufacturer of this medical device, were consolidated in Federal Court in Arizona before Judge David Campbell. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation noted that the cases “involve common factual questions arising from allegations that defects in the design of Bard’s retrievable inferior vena cava filters make them more likely to fracture, migrate, tilt, or perforate the inferior vena cava, causing injury.”
Lieff Cabraser represents injured patients across the U.S. and families whose loved ones died in a case about a medical device intended only for temporary use but is often left permanently in patients exposing them to blood clots, hemorrhages, heart attacks, and other life-threatening injuries. This device is called a retrievable inferior vena cava filters or IVC Filters.
For over three decades, we have successfully represented thousands of persons across America seriously injured by defective medical devices in personal injury lawsuits. Our law firm has been recognized by U.S. News, Best Lawyers, and the National Law Journal as one of the nation’s top law firms for representing clients in injury cases. You can call us today about your IVC filter injury case without charge or obligation at 1 800 541-7358, or use the contact form on this page.
What is an IVC filter?
IVC filters are small, spider-like medical devices that are inserted into the inferior vena cava, which is the main blood vessel that returns blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. The inferior vena cava is located in the abdomen.
Wendy Fleishman Discusses IVC Filter Blood Clot Dangers and Lawsuits
There are two types of ICV filters: permanent and retrievable (or removable).
What is the purpose of IVC filters?
IVC filters are designed to filter or “catch” blood clots (called “thrombi”) emanating in the legs before they reach the lungs. Blood clots in legs are called deep vein thrombosis or DVT. A blood clot in the lungs is referred to as a pulmonary embolism or PE, which can be fatal.
Importantly, retrievable IVC filters — the type of IVC filter most patients receive – are intended for short-term placement and should be removed after the risk of blood clots passes.
If a person is at risk of pulmonary embolism, should he or she first be implanted with an IVC filter?
No. The usual therapy for a patient at risk for blood clots traveling from the legs to the lungs is anticoagulation drug therapy, such as heparin or Coumadin. IVC filters, however, are inserted in patients when medications to dissolve clots cannot be used or are ineffective. For example, IVC filters have been increasingly used following gastric bypass or bariatic surgery and other types of major surgery when a patient is temporarily at risk for DVT and traditional anticoagulation may cause serious bleeding.
Are IVC filters commonly used?
Yes. IVC filter usage has increased rapidly in the past 30 years. Tens of thousands of patients in the U.S. are implanted with IVC filters annually. In 1979, 2,000 IVC filters were implanted, while in 2007, that number was nearly 167,000 with over 250,000 used in 2012. The market leaders in the sale of IVC filters are Cordis Corporation, Cook Medical, and C.R. Bard, Inc.
What are the risks associated with IVC filters?
Several studies have found that the prolonged presence of certain retrievable IVC filters is linked to serious, even fatal, complications including:
- device fracture,
- device migration,
- perforation of various organs, and
- an increased risk for blood clots (the exact danger the devices are intended to prevent).
Again, retrievable IVC filters are intended to provide temporary protection from blood clots in the lungs. Yet, most of these filters are left permanently in the patient. This is because the removal of IVCs requires invasive surgery and can pose significant risks. A report published in 2015 found that the prolonged presence of IVC filters was “associated with retrieval failure rates as high as 43%.”
Has the government received reports of dangerous complications associated with IVC filters?
Yes. In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory that it had received 921 adverse event reports involving IVC filters since 2005.
Of these adverse event reports, 328 involved device migration, 146 involved detachment of device components, 70 involved perforation of the IVC, and 56 involved filter fracture. Some of the fractured pieces ended up in the heart or pulmonary artery and had to be removed by risky surgery.
The number of actual adverse events is likely much greater as physician and device manufacturers are not required under the law to report complications with medical devices to the FDA.
In a 2014 safety communication, the FDA recommended that physicians responsible for the care of patients with retrievable ICV filters consider removing the filter “as soon as protection from pulmonary embolism is no longer needed.” The FDA further noted that the risk/benefits of ICV filters “begin to favor removal of the IVC filter between 29 and 54 days after implantation.”
Why are manufacturers legally responsible for injuries patients with IVC filters have suffered?
Manufacturers of medical devices owe a duty to patients to produce safe and effective products. This requires that manufacturers test their products for any defects prior to introducing them to the market. Further, medical device makers must inform patients and their physicians of any adverse health effects from the use of the devices. Failure to meet this duty leaves medical device manufacturers open to product liability and injury lawsuits.
Lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard and other retrievable IVC filter makers allege that these companies knew or should have known that the devices were defective for several reasons:
- The defendants failed to conduct appropriate testing, including human clinical testing, to determine how the devices actually functioned in the body once implanted and after remaining in the body for an extended period,
- Published medical studies have found numerous complications from prolonged presence of IVC filters including fracture, device migration, perforation of the vena cava wall, organ penetration, and increased risk for venous thrombosis,
- To reduce the risks of life-threatening complications from retrievable ICV filters, it is necessary to remove them, which requires invasive surgery and often is unsuccessful,
- The defendants misrepresented the risks associated with retrievable ICVs and failed to issue appropriate safety warnings to patients and physicians.
What types of legal claims may patients bring against IVC filter makers for their injuries?
In general, patients may file a lawsuit for the severe pain and significant injuries they suffered as a result of a medical device that is defective or unreasonably dangerous or fails to perform as claimed by the manufacturer. In most states the legal claims that may be brought include negligence, strict liability for design defect, strict liability for manufacturing defect, strict liability for failure to warn, and breach of warranty.
What recovery will I receive?
In most jurisdictions, if you suffered a personal injury and the defendant is found liable, the defendant is responsible for paying for your medical care, both past and expected, your past and future lost earnings and loss of earnings capacity, and an amount to compensate you for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and physical impairment. Your spouse also might be entitled to an award if he or she has a loss of consortium claim.
If the conduct that caused the injury was egregious, you may also be entitled to an award of punitive damages in certain states.
In the case of a patient’s death, the family of the victim may file a wrongful death action and seek damages.
How do I select an attorney to represent me?
You should seek an attorney who has substantial experience in successfully handling similar cases. It is important to not only verify the reputation and experience of the law firm as a whole, but to be sure that your case will be handled by lawyers with appropriate experience and knowledge.
In lawsuits involving defective medical devices sold by major corporations represented by both in-house counsel and lawyers at prominent defense law firms, a case can be expensive to litigate and typically requires the hiring of experts to support your case. You should choose a law firm with the substantial financial, personnel, and technological resources needed to thoroughly investigate the case, including hiring of experts to support your claims, and take it to trial and appeal, if necessary.
Why Should I Retain Lieff Cabraser As My IVC Filter Injury Lawyer?
If you agree to retain our firm, we will prosecute your case as a personal injury lawsuit and provide you attentive representation by experienced injury lawyers.
- We have successfully represented thousands of persons across America seriously injured in personal injury lawsuits against the nation’s large medical device manufacturers. In several of these cases, the total settlement amount awarded to the injured patients exceeded a billion dollars.
- Our injury attorneys have been recognized as one of the top injury law practice groups in the nation. We work as a team, sharing evidence and following a strategic plan forthe litigation. In addition, we have multiple nurses, legal assistants, scientific analysts, and case clerks on staff to assist our attorneys, helping to gather the evidence necessary to prove your case and for you to obtain the full compensation you are entitled to under the law.
- While we offer our clients the advantages and resources that only a well-established national law firm can provide, we treat each client as an individual. We will regularly update you on the status of your case.
- Finally, you possess the direction and control over the case. For example, if the defendants were to make an offer to settle your case, we will promptly inform you. We will advise whether or not you should accept the offer based on the law and facts of your case. The decision, however, will be yours alone to make.