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Last August, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federally filed Bard IVC filter lawsuits into one court in the District of Arizona. Since then, both sides have been working toward the selection of a small number of cases that will go to early trial.

In a case management order signed May 5, 2016, Judge David G. Campbell, who is overseeing the proceedings, outlined the bellwether selection process, which is intended to result in 50 cases eligible to be tried first. There are about 400 cases that are pending in the federal court system.

Bard IVC Filters Linked to Migration and Blood Clots

All of these cases have been filed by plaintiffs who were implanted with a Bard IVC filter and then experienced serious injuries, including blood clots, migration, and/or vein and organ perforation.

Inferior vena cava (IVC) filters are small, cage-like devices that are implanted in the main vein traveling from the legs back to the heart. There, it is designed to capture and hold blood clots until they dissipate, so they cannot move on to cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).

Patients who either cannot take blood-thinning drugs, or who do not benefit from them, may be candidates for treatment with an IVC filter. Recent studies, however, have suggested that the risks associated with these devices may outweigh the benefits.

Bard IVC filters, in particular, have been found to be prone to fracture, where one of the little “legs” breaks off and migrates to other areas of the body. The device itself can also tilt out of position, perforating the vein and potentially causing blood clots rather than preventing them.

Court Sets Deadlines for Bellwether Selection Process

The goal of the IVC MDL is to choose a small number of cases that will go to trial—bellwether trials—to help gauge how juries may react to the evidence. Often, these early trials help facilitate settlement negotiations between the parties, resolving the litigation more quickly.

In the case management order, Judge Campbell stated that any case filed before April 2016 will be eligible for inclusion in the bellwether process. He then set the following deadlines:

  • By June 29, 2016, the parties will each exchange their lists of 24 representative cases selected from the initial plaintiff pool. These 48 cases will be named “Group 1.”
  • Be December 9, 2016, the parties shall each exchange lists of ten selected cases from Group 1. The parties can also designate four cases for automatic inclusion in Discovery Group 1 at that time. The parties will then meet and confer to choose the remaining four additional cases that will be included in this group.
  • By December 16, 2016, the parties will complete this part of the process and submit to the Court a list of 12 cases they recommend as Discovery Group 1.
  • By March 1, 2017, the parties will exchange lists of 6 proposed selections from Discovery Group 1 for bellwether plaintiffs. They will meet and confer to come up with six final cases to constitute Bellwether Group 1.
  • After this group is confirmed, trial dates will be set.

In addition to the cases pending for Bard IVC filters, at least another 200 cases are pending for Cook IVC filters, as part of a separate MDL centralized in the Southern District of Indiana.

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