The first IVC filter lawsuit to be heard in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas has resulted in a $33 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff in the case. The verdict is significant because the city’s Court of Common Pleas is hearing over 760 such cases as a part of its IVC filter mass tort program. Some 15,000 additional IVC filter lawsuits are pending in federal courts across the country.
The jury awarded plaintiff Tracy Reed-Brown approximately $1 million for her future medical expenses and approximately $2.3 million for her future pain and suffering. The award also included approximately $30.3 million in punitive damages against Rex Medical, the corporation that designed the filter that led to Ms. Reed-Brown’s injuries.
The lawsuit specifically alleged that Rex Medical failed to sufficiently test the design of their “Option Retrievable” filter and, as a result, either knew or should have known that, like many other IVC filter failures, the Option Retrievable model was prone to breakage, migration, and embedding of the filter in internal tissues and organs. The result is untold pain and suffering for the patient, as well as gastrointestinal issues, the possibility of kidney failure, and death.
Federal IVC lawsuits and those in other jurisdictions have led to mixed verdicts. The Philadelphia jury’s decision could have significant implications for the hundreds of cases yet to be heard in the city. Reed-Brown’s attorneys were pleased with the jurors’ interpretations of the case. “They really understood the facts and they really understood what happened in this case,” said one attorney on her team. “The jury got it and hopefully this will go towards getting people relief from all of these filters.”
IVC filters are small, spider-like devices implanted in the patient’s inferior vena cava. The legs of the filter are designed to catch blood clots before they can travel into the heart or lungs; an event that can end with tragic results. Plaintiffs in IVC filter lawsuits claim that design and manufacturing failures can lead to severe injury when pieces of the filter break off and travel through the patient’s bloodstream. Filter pieces have become lodged in other areas of patients’ bodies, pierced the inferior vena cava, and resulted in additional surgeries to retrieve the pieces and repair the damage caused by the device failures.