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On August 17, 2015, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federal Bard IVC filter lawsuits into one court in the District of Arizona. They assigned District Judge David G. Campbell to oversee the coordinated proceedings.

A total of 22 cases were transferred from other courts, including some in California, Florida, Illinois, and Michigan. Though manufacturer C. R. Bard opposed centralization, the panel agreed with plaintiffs that the litigation involves common questions of fact, and that bringing the cases together in Arizona serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses, eliminate duplicative discovery, and avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings.

FDA Warns IVC Filters Associated with Serious Side Effects

Plaintiffs filing Bard IVC filter lawsuits typically claim that the devices were defectively designed, and that C. R. Bard failed to provide adequate warnings concerning the risks associated with the devices. In 2010, the FDA released a safety communication stating that they had received 921 reports of adverse events linked to IVC filters between 2005 and 2010.

IVC filters are tiny cage-like devices that are inserted into the inferior vena cava, the main vein that travels from the lower legs into the heart. It is this vein that can carry blood clots from the lower legs to the lungs, potentially causing pulmonary embolism (or “PE,” a blood clot in the lung).

Patients who are unable to take anticoagulant medications, which are typically used to reduce the risk of PE, may be implanted with an IVC. The filters are supposed to catch blood clots before they get to the lungs, and hold them until they dissipate.

Clinical reports and scientific studies, however, have found that in many cases, these filters can fracture, or have certain parts break off and perforate the vein. Broken “struts” can also migrate to other areas of the body, like the heart or lungs, where they can cause serious health problems.

C. R. Bard Opposed Centralization

Now that the JPML has consolidated all federal Bard IVC filter lawsuits into the District of Arizona, the number of cases is likely to increase as more patients come forward seeking compensation for medical expenses. C. R. Bard originally opposed centralization, stating that the discovery in some cases was already completed, and that what remained in each case would be individual in nature. They added that informal coordination among the cases already pending was sufficient to manage the litigation.

Plaintiffs disagreed, stating that Bard had refused to produce updated discovery, and that they will seek to reopen discovery in all cases. The JPML stated that centralization will streamline these discovery issues, and result in one ruling that will apply to all.

If there are some cases that are too far along to be a part of the MDL, the panel stated that the court was in the best position to identify and deal with those cases.

Why the District of Arizona?

The plaintiffs suggested two locations for the Bard IVC filter MDL: the Northern District of Texas and the District of Nevada. The panel went with the District of Arizona instead, since Bard is headquartered there, and thus documents and witnesses will be found there. They added that the district was not already burdened by many MDLs and had the capacity and resources to successfully guide the litigation.

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