IVC filters are metal devices placed inside the inferior vena cava to filter blood clots that could possibly migrate from the lower body to the heart and/or lungs. Blood clots that do migrate to the lungs can potentially cause a blockage, or a pulmonary embolism (PE). An IVC filter is designed to lower the risk as it traps the larger clots and can prevent them from reaching vital organs such as the heart or lungs. An interventional radiologist can insert them using image guidance.
Taking a quick look at the recent cases, a significant verdict against Cook Celect came in on May 24, 2018. A firefighter was awarded $1.2 million when a jury decided that Cook Celect should have warned his surgeon of the potential risks of the IVC filter. Another significant verdict was issued in April 2018, when an Arizona jury found C.R. Bard, Inc. to be negligent due to a fracture in their G2 inferior vena cava (IVC) filter. The C.R. Bard case awarded the plaintiff $3.6 million. It is important to note that $2 million of the aggregate damages were handed down as punitive, to punish C.R. Bard for their gross misconduct. This is a dramatic point to note because it signifies that the jury did not see this case as a simple negligence case in which the company made an error. The punitive damages show the jury was angered by the company’s negligence. The Arizona case may prove to be a landmark case going forward and may push the settlement numbers higher for pending and future IVC lawsuits.
Currently, lawsuits are popping up all over the country as reports are showing that IVC filters may be problematic, and their risks could outweigh their benefits. For example, the Arizona case decided in March, was initiated due to an injury that occurred when a Bard G2 IVC filter inserted in the plaintiff’s inferior vena cava migrated and subsequently fractured. Reported adverse events include occurrences of IVC filters fracturing, migrating, tilting, and perforating IVC walls.
Thus far, cases have been brought against numerous manufacturers, including, C.R. Bard, Cook Medical, Cordis, and Argon Medical Devices.