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Cook IVC MDL Schedules Settlement Conferences for February 2016

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Since October 2014, all federal Cook IVC filter lawsuits have been transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Plaintiffs claim to have suffered serious side effects after being implanted with these filters, which are designed to help prevent blood clots from traveling from the deep veins in the legs to the lungs.

According to minutes from a September 1, 2015 telephonic status conference, the court will conduct “settlement conferences” on a select number of cases between February 16th and February 18th, 2016, in Indianapolis. The cases will be chosen from the Discovery Pool cases, with the hope that both parties can reach a mutual resolution without having to proceed to trial.

Cook IVC Filters May Perforate the Inferior Vena Cava

Cook (IVC) filters are small, cage-like devices that are implanted into the inferior vena cava (IVC), the main vein traveling from the legs back to the heart. It is this vein that can carry blood clots from the deep veins in the legs to the lungs, potentially causing a pulmonary embolism (PE). Patients who can’t take blood-thinning drugs to reduce the risk of blood clots, or who are at a high risk for PE, are sometimes implanted with these temporary devices.

Several studies have linked these devices to serious side effects. In 2015, for example, researchers reported that when compared to the Rex Medical Option filter, the Cook Celect IVC filter had a 43 percent rate of strut perforation—which means that a piece of the device perforated the vein it was implanted in—compared to zero percent for the Option.

In May 2014, the FDA released a safety communication suggesting that IVC filters should be removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation, to help reduce the risk of these types of side effects.

Parties Choose Cases for Settlement Conferences

When a number of cases are consolidated in one court, it’s typical for both sides to choose a sampling of cases that will go to trial first. These are called “bellwether trials,” and are used to gauge how juries will respond to the evidence.

The parties are already busy choosing these initial cases, but now it seems the court will attempt the settlement conferences before the bellwether trials, in the hopes both sides can come to an agreement early, before the trials begin.

In addition to the settlement conferences, the parties also discussed on the telephonic status conference the defendants’ fact sheets, the case management plan, and the protocol for selecting the bellwether cases. The next status conference will also be telephonic, and is scheduled for October 14, 2015.

Two Types of Cook IVC Filters Potentially Defective

At issue in the Indiana court are the Cook Gunther Tulip and the Cook Celect IVC filters. Evidence has found that these filters are prone to perforation, and may cause other injuries as well, particularly if the devices migrate to other parts of the body, such as the heart or lungs.

The Gunther filter was first released in the U.S. in 2000, and the Celect in 2007. Manufacturer Cook Medical maintains that the devices are safe, and that the incidences of perforation, migration, and fracture remain extremely low.