The first bellwether trial in the Bard IVC filter MDL netted a big win for the plaintiffs last Friday. Lopez McHugh partner Ramon Lopez and attorney Josh Mankoff were on hand for the duration of the trial and the reading of the verdict. Lopez, who was co-lead trial counsel, noted that this is a “huge win for the thousands of plaintiffs with Bard IVC lawsuits pending. This verdict is a positive sign of things to come in this litigation for so many other victims of this dangerous device. Hopefully, Bard will do the right thing and fairly compensate these former ‘customers.'”
Mankoff added that “bellwethers are intended as test cases to see how juries will weigh the facts in similar cases. A win like this may begin to set the stage for resolution of the thousands of cases currently on file throughout the country.”
Claims in IVC filter lawsuits include allegations that device manufacturers, including Bard, failed to warn of the dangers and the lack of safety testing associated with IVC filters. Generally, the devices are umbrella shaped cages intended to capture blood clots in the inferior vena cava before they reach the heart or lungs of the recipient. Evidence indicates that the filters are prone to fracturing, migrating, tilting and perforating organs, among other failures which lead to death and injuries.
The Bard bellwether case involved a woman who received a Bard G2 filter when she was 37. A radiologist discovered the device had fractured inside her inferior vena cava after implantation. Later, a fractured piece of the filter migrated to her heart. The plaintiff underwent open heart surgery in 2014 to remove the broken filter parts, however, not all of the pieces could be removed.
Bard, the device’s manufacturer, argued that the surgeon – not its device – was responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. The jury, however, did not agree. They awarded $1.6 million in compensatory damages and another $2 million in punitive damages against Bard.
A punitive damages award of this magnitude is nearly unheard of in this conservative Arizona venue that is home to the Bard MDL. The instructions given to the jury on the subject of punitive damages required that they find that plaintiff proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that “the actions of Bard showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care that would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.”
The remaining $400,000 was attributed to the radiologist who the jury found to be remiss in reporting the problems with the device. The radiologist, however, was not a party to the lawsuit.
Although this was first MDL trial over a Bard IVC filter, this is not the first trip to court over a Bard IVC filter device for Lopez McHugh partner Ramon Lopez. Lopez took a Bard filter case to trial in 2015; a case which resolved after 11 days of trial.
Lopez and Mankoff look forward to continuing the fight for plaintiffs in both state and federal IVC filter trials set to begin this summer and fall.