If you’ve been injured or have suffered from a defective inferior vena cava (IVC) filter, Saunders & Walker P.A. can help you determine whether your injuries may form the basis for legal action and how much you might expect to receive in an IVC filter lawsuit settlement.
Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from blood clots, including pulmonary embolisms. To combat the problem, medical manufacturers developed IVC filters, implantable devices that trap clots in the inferior vena cava, the largest vein in the human body.
Yet, since their mass production began in 1998, implanted IVC filters have not demonstrably prevented blood clots or reduced the mortality rate associated with clots. A 2013 article published by the American Medical Association argued that there’s little to no evidence that IVC filters are effective and questioned why physicians recommend them to patients in the first place.
It’s clear that, at the very least, these medical devices are ineffective as blood clot filters. In many cases, they’re downright defective. Not only do IVC filters fail to reduce the death rate in trauma patients, but they pose additional health risks as well. Designed to save lives, the filters seem to be doing a better job of taking them.
An inferior vena cava (IVC) filter is a medical device designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the lungs and causing a serious complication called pulmonary embolism. The inferior vena cava is a vein that transports blood from the lower part of the body back into the heart. Clots that form in the legs or pelvis (deep vein thrombosis) can potentially travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, where they can block blood flow and cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal.
An IVC filter is usually a small, cage-like device that is inserted into the inferior vena cava. It is typically placed just below the kidneys, in the abdominal area. The purpose of the filter is to capture or trap blood clots before they can reach the lungs, thereby preventing pulmonary embolisms.
Here’s how an IVC filter works:
IVC filters are typically considered for patients who are at a high risk of experiencing blood clots but are unable to use traditional blood-thinning medications or when those medications are not effective. Some common scenarios where IVC filters might be considered include:
IVC filters have been in use since the late ‘60s, but in recent years these devices have attracted significant criticism due to their safety risks.
There are many known risks associated with IVC filters. Recognized IVC filter complications include the following:
Long-term data on the effectiveness of IVC filters is limited, particularly for filters that are left in place for extended periods. Meanwhile, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that these devices can be extremely hazardous to the patient’s health.
A growing body of research has revealed the extent to which IVC filters pose a risk to medical patients. As a result, IVC filter lawsuits have been filed against a number of manufacturers, including Cook Medical, C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific, and Cordis, who have failed to warn consumers about the dangers of IVC filters.
Litigation regarding Cook and Bard’s IVC filters have included:
In each of these lawsuits, the patients experienced severe or life-threatening complications or death; many deceased patients were represented in state or federal court by family members.
When it comes to litigating these specific cases, patients can bring on witnesses to speak on their behalf on how faulty IVC filters really are. They can also call medical professionals as witnesses, but there are a few exceptions.
Dr. Scott Resnick, a radiologist from Northwestern University, was disqualified from testifying as a witness for a Bard lawsuit. Although Resnick formed a consulting group to testify for IVC filters, the court dismissed him because he previously served as a consultant for Bard in a separate lawsuit.
Even if a patient loses one witness, whether it’s a medical professional or an IVC filter recipient, what’s most important is that they at least have someone who can provide a critical testimony about the defects of IVC filters.
If you’re uncertain about which medical professional can help testify in court, radiologists and hematologists are usually the most reliable. Pulmonologists can also be helpful if your IVC filter has affected your lungs.
Thousands of IVC filter cases are currently pending before courts throughout the country. If past medical device cases are any indication, injured parties could receive substantial sums in settlement awards. Combined, billions of dollars have been given to the victims of defective medical devices over the years. Individual suits often result in tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.
That being said, each case is unique. No one can make any guarantees regarding specific IVC filter lawsuit settlement amounts. That’s why there can be no definitive answer to the question so commonly heard by consumer injury attorneys: “How much is my IVC filter case worth?”
When awarding a dollar amount, juries will typically consider:
In the coming months and years, a few bellwether cases may help injured parties and their lawyers better estimate the amounts that are likely to be awarded in future Bard or Cook IVC filter lawsuit settlements. A bellwether trial is a small group of lawsuits extracted from a larger group of similar cases. It serves as a kind of “practice run” that helps attorneys anticipate how similar cases will play out in the future. Bellwether trials are commonly used in multidistrict lawsuits.
Multidistrict litigation lawsuits combine similar cases for pretrial proceedings but often allow patients to pursue individual lawsuits—all with the goal of receiving a substantial settlement. Featured below are some of the latest updates on IVC filter settlements with medical device manufacturers.
To date, more than 17,000 lawsuits have been filed against many IVC filter makers, including Bard, Cook, and Boston Scientific. One of Bard’s greatest losses took place in Phoenix, Arizona, on March 30th, 2018. In their first bellwether trial, a federal judge ordered Bard to pay a sum of $3.6 million to Sherri Booker, whose defective IVC filter broke apart and perforated one of her blood vessels.
While surviving the painful ordeal, she had to undergo heart surgery to remove the device from causing further damage to her blood vessel. The $3.6 million that Booker received consisted of the $1.6 million that Bard was forced to pay plus an additional $2 million in punitive damages. Additional Bard IVC filter settlements are likely in the future.
Although a lawsuit can help you reach a settlement, it may take some time in order to receive compensation. However, the reward is worth the wait—settlements, depending on the scope of harm, can lead to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
In the spring of 2018, Cook lost a state IVC filter lawsuit, in which they awarded Jeffrey Pavlock, a Houston firefighter, $1.2 million after the firefighter experienced blood vessel and organ perforations. The lawsuit pinned the injuries on a Cook Celect IVC filter.
When the Cook Celect IVC filter tilted and became lodged in Pavlock’s duodenum and renal vein, it took three surgeries to remove it. Surgeons had to cut the Celect IVC filter into several pieces and dig it out of his body.
The procedure left Pavlock with a 16-inch surgical scar and he may eventually suffer from spinal stenosis, which can lead to serious side effects including muscle weakness, numbness, and chronic pain.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that IVC filters shouldn’t permanently stay in the body, manufacturers like Cook continue to deceive patients while ignoring the long-term side effects that it can cause patients’ health.
Another company that manufactures IVC filters, Boston Scientific, was also hit with a wrongful death lawsuit from one of their signature products—the Greenfield vena cava filter. In 2013, Cinthia Ratliff, an Ohio truck driver, died after her Greenfield filter malfunctioned and caused her vena cava to perforate, which led to internal bleeding.
Ratliff first had her Greenfield filter surgically implanted in 2004 in order to treat her deep vein thrombosis. After Ratliff’s unfortunate passing, the administrators of her estate, Julia and Raylyn Ratliff, immediately sued Boston Scientific for $75,000 on the counts of gross negligence and wrongful death.
Even worse for Boston Scientific, Cinthia’s autopsy confirmed her estate’s allegation that the cause of death was “perforation of inferior vena cava by Greenfield Filter with retroperitoneal hemorrhage.” After two years of litigation, Boston Scientific settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount in March 2017.
In the U.S., a class action lawsuit requires that everyone threatening legal action has suffered the same injury. If the class action lawsuit wins a settlement, each person will receive an equal share.
In Florida, Pennsylvania, and California, patients have filed—and sometimes won—class action lawsuits against manufacturers such as Cook and Bard. Class action lawsuits aim to create a fund for the medical monitoring of all people implanted with defective IVC filters. This is necessary in cases where the court requires patients to take periodic tests to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the devices.
While a few individual settlements have been reached in court at the state level, manufacturers consistently refuse to settle many lawsuits, as they would prefer to take cases to court. While case evaluations vary in terms of severity, manufacturers insist that IVC filters can help treat blood clots despite many patients experiencing the opposite outcome.
If you or a loved one has experienced complications due to a defective IVC filter, you may be entitled to file a claim. The best way to determine whether you qualify and to estimate a settlement award is to speak with an attorney who can evaluate the specifics of your case. At Saunders & Walker P.A., we provide free case reviews to potential clients. Our IVC filter lawyers will listen to your story, carefully consider the facts, and advise you on your options for pursuing a Cook Medical, Boston Scientific, or Bard IVC filter settlement.
Since each state has their own statute of limitations for these cases, it’s recommended that you consult with a law firm as soon as your IVC filter stops functioning or once it causes physical, mental, or emotional anguish.
Our law firm represents clients who have been injured by IVC filters. We also represent the surviving family members of patients who have suffered wrongful death at the hands of unscrupulous medical manufacturers. Fill out our simple online form in order to contact us and schedule a free case review.