A spider-shaped medical device called an IVC filter placed in the inferior vena cava, a large vein in the middle of the body, has for years been implanted in patients to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart or lungs, an occurrence that can prove fatal. But IVC filters have in some cases not only proven ineffective, but worse, the devices themselves have caused serious injuries and deaths.
Thousands of lawsuits have resulted against companies that make IVC filters. One, against Rex Medical LP, a case tried in Philadelphia, brought a $33.7 million verdict against the company, with more than $30 million of that in punitive damages. The jury found that the IVC filter had been defectively designed and that it had perforated the patient’s inferior vena cava, pancreas, aorta, and renal vein.
In other cases, IVC filters, whose efficacy has been questioned, caused life-threatening complications, including fracture of the medical device’s arms, with fragments then migrating to other parts of the body. Studies also suggest that the filters may cause clots, and large clots can cause the filters to shift from their intended position.
That is only part of the story. Reports have claimed that manufacturers of the devices – some of which have been pulled from the market but others that continue to be implanted in patients – have known about the hazards associated with their IVC filters and failed to do anything about it, not even reporting the possible dangers to doctors or including important information about the dangers in user instructions.
Also, problems with an IVC filter are not always immediately recognizable. Damage caused by IVC filters may not be evident in some patients for years after implantation. And patients who experience problems may not be aware of a defect in their device nor whether problems have been reported by companies who make IVC filters, among them Argon, Bard, Braun, Cook, Cordis, Rex Medical, and Volcano.
In the case of the $33.7 million verdict, a jury found that a Rex Medical IVC filter had been defectively designed. That case, for a Georgia woman, had been the first to go to trial in the Philadelphia mass tort that consolidated some 800 cases against Rex Medical.
In another case, this one in Arizona, a jury in federal court handed down a $3.6 million – including $2 million in punitive damages -- to a woman injured by an IVC filter made by Bard. A judge in another federal case ruled recently that a Texas woman may seek punitive damages for injuries she sustained when, her suit claims, parts of a Bard IVC filter broke off, migrated through her body, and lodged in her heart and lung.
Such lawsuits against medical device makers can be complex and difficult to prove. That’s why patients who suffered injuries they suspect were caused by an IVC filter need to hire a team of lawyers with expertise in the medical product liability field. Kline & Specter, with more than 40 attorneys, five of whom are also highly skilled medical doctors, has the experience – with more than $10 billion won in verdicts and settlements – to investigate and litigate potential IVC filter lawsuits. The firm has won many large verdicts and settlements against medical device manufacturers and is currently litigating IVC filter cases.
Kline & Specter provides case evaluations for free.