Appeals Court Upholds $3.6 Million Verdict in Bard IVC Filter Lawsuit

A March 2018 verdict handed down by a Phoenix jury in a federal lawsuit brought against C.R. Bard over complications associated with an IVC filter that fractured inside the plaintiff’s body has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After reviewing the evidence in the plaintiff’s case, the federal court ruled that C.R. Bard should be required to pay $1.6 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages designed to punish the medical device maker for causing harm to consumers. If you or someone you know has suffered serious complications allegedly caused by a defective IVC filter, contact us today to find out if you are eligible to file a claim to recover compensation for your injuries.

Potential IVC Filter Side Effects

IVC (inferior vena cava) filters are small, cage-like devices designed to capture blood clots and protect patients from pulmonary embolisms. The filters are inserted into the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the lower portion of the body to the heart. Over the past several decades, thousands of IVC filters have been implanted in patients across the country, despite limited evidence indicating that the filters provide any real benefit to patients. On the contrary, a growing body of research suggests that IVC filters may put patients at risk for serious, potentially life-threatening complications, possibly including:

  • Filter fracture
  • Filter migration
  • Perforation of the inferior vena cava
  • Lower-limb deep vein thrombosis
  • Injury to internal organs
  • Filter embolization
  • Wrongful death

Bard’s Device More Dangerous than Other IVC Filters

The IVC filter lawsuit that was reviewed by the appeals court was filed by plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker in February 2016, alleging that Bard’s G2 device is more dangerous than other IVC filter devices. It was the first lawsuit filed against C.R. Bard in the federal court system to go before a jury, involving claims that the manufacturer’s IVC filter was defectively designed and prone to fracture, migration, embolization and other complications posing a risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries for users. Bard still faces thousands of IVC filter lawsuits filed in the federal court system over problems with its IVC filters, which plaintiffs say caused them harm. Booker’s IVC filter case belonged to a small group of early cases known as “bellwether” trials, which are representative test cases designed to help both parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

Bard Failed to Warn About IVC Filter Risks

According to allegations raised in Sherr-Una Booker’s IVC filter lawsuit, she received a Bard G2 Vena Cava filter in June 2007, prior to undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous cervical mass. The filter was meant to capture potentially dangerous blood clots and reduce her risk of pulmonary embolism during and after surgery. Instead, the filter broke apart, perforated her IVC and sent metal fragments into her heart, a life-threatening problem that required open-heart surgery. Even after undergoing surgery to have the filter removed, one of the fractured “struts” remains in Booker’s IVC. Booker’s lawyer argued in the lawsuit that Bard knew that its IVC filter device was dangerous but continued selling it without providing doctors or patients with adequate warnings about its risks. The Phoenix jury sided with Booker and awarded her $1.6 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages.

After considering the evidence in Booker’s case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the full amount of the original verdict handed down by the Phoenix jury in 2018, rejecting Bard’s claims that the verdict should be overturned based on, among other things, the argument that Booker’s claims were preempted by federal law. “The panel held that Bard’s preemption argument failed because plaintiff’s claim rested on an asserted state-law duty to warn of the risks posed by the particular design of Bard’s G2 Filter, and the FDA had not imposed any requirements related to the design of that device or how a device of that design should be labeled,” the judges wrote.

Lawsuits Over Injuries from Defective IVC Filters

Since the original verdict was handed down in Booker’s IVC filter case, C.R. Bard has agreed to individual settlement agreements resolving a handful of lawsuits claiming that the company’s IVC filters are defective, making them more likely to fail and cause injuries to patients. However, the manufacturing company still faces thousands of claims seeking damages for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages. If you received an IVC filter to reduce your risk of blood clots or pulmonary embolism and you have since experienced a serious complication like filter fracture, migration of the filter to other parts of your body, perforation of the IVC or filter embolization, you may have grounds to file a claim against the medical device manufacturer. Contact an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible to determine whether you are eligible to pursue compensation through an IVC filter injury lawsuit.