Cook Medical Ordered to Pay $1.2 Million to Compensate Man Who Required Open Laparotomy Surgery to Remove IVC Filter

Cook Medical has been ordered to pay $1.2 million to compensate a 35-year-old Houston-area firefighter who was implanted with a Cook Celect IVC filter. At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the 12 person jury ruled Cook must pay for injuries following a Celect filter’s implantation in Jeff Pavlock on March 3, 2015. Mr. Pavlock sued Cook after its Celect inferior vena cava filter required open laparotomy surgery to be removed.

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Cook promoted its Celect IVC filter as retrievable, but the filter put into Mr. Pavlock’s inferior vena cava tilted, perforated his IVC, duodenum and aorta, and was pressing against his spine and renal artery, making it impossible to remove without major surgery. Two previous removal procedures had failed.

There was much discussion from both sides about how much the results of the invasive surgery affected Mr. Pavlock now and could affect him in the future. Defense pounced on the Plaintiff side’s analysis that any spinal stenosis Mr. Pavlock may have is asymptomatic for now but could become symptomatic in the future. There was much uncertainty over whether or not Mr. Pavlock would suffer symptomatic stenosis in future or how much trauma he suffered from the surgery.

The attorney argued for the plaintiff in closing that Cook knew its Celect had perforation problems before it was cleared by the FDA, yet pushed it to the market regardless. He showed the jury several independent studies that found Celect had a perforation rate of greater than 79 percent, while the Cook-sponsored study the company presented to the FDA prior to Celect’s 510(k) clearance in 2008 showed a zero percent perforation rate. Mr. Matthews also reminded the jury that he had shown evidence that as few as one percent of adverse events are reported by doctors to a medical device maker.

To explain or dismiss the large gap between independent and Cook-sponsored study findings, the defense attorney stated, “They have their favorite studies and we have ours.” Cook’s attorneys had also refuted trial evidence of doctors reporting only 1-5% of actual adverse events related to medical devices. In closing, the defense called the low-reporting evidentiary studies a “conspiracy theory.”

Freese & Goss and Matthews & Associates Law Firm represented the plaintiff. The actual jury award was $1,240,500.