March 13, 2018. For the thousands of patients across the country that have been implanted with Bard IVC filters and suffered injuries as a result, this date is their first glimpse at the MDL trial storyline.
The trial will take place in the United States District Court in the District of Arizona where over 3,000 Bard IVC filter lawsuits are pending and have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation. Five bellwether cases were selected to represent the plaintiffs in the Arizona court and the March 13th trial marks the start of the proceedings.
Bellwether cases are an important part of the multidistrict litigation process because they serve as indicators of the likely outcomes of similar cases and can be used to set the stage for settlement negotiations by both sides. They offer first-hand insights into the arguments and counter-arguments that each side will present, as well as opening a view into the claims that the device manufacturers will make in their own defense. They are a way to gauge the strength of each side’s case and forge a way forward based on those presumed strengths and subsequent weaknesses.
Bard IVC filters, like those manufactured by other companies, are highly-prone to breakages after implantation. They are also responsible for numerous perforations of the inferior vena cava and have been known to migrate to other locations within the patient’s body, including the heart. In 2015, a report by NBC News that aired after conducting a full year of research linked 27 deaths and over 300 injuries to Bard’s Recovery model of IVC filter. The report, as well as related lawsuits, have raised significant questions over how much Bard knew about the safety of its IVC filters before it decided to press forward with marketing efforts for the devices.
Those questions are well-founded. According to internal documents, Bard had been internally raising questions about the safety of its own filter devices from as early as December of 2004. The company would wait an additional 10 months before taking any action on those concerns, resulting in the sale and implantation of an additional 34,000 additional Recovery filters.
These facts, along with many others, will finally have their time to be heard as a jury begins hearing arguments in a case that will more than likely affect the lives of thousands.