On July 17, 2021, a federal jury in Wisconsin found in favor of a woman who claimed that a vein filter manufactured by C.R Bard fractured and caused her serious injuries, awarding her $3.3 million in damages after a nine-day trial.
In 2013, plaintiff Natalie Johnson was implanted with a Bard “Meridian Filter,” a prescription medical device that is placed in a patient’s inferior vena cava (“IVC”) and is designed to prevent pulmonary embolisms. In Johnson’s case, however, once implanted, the device tilted, migrated, and fractured. Even after a procedure to remove the filter, broken parts of the device still remain in Johnson’s body. Johnson brought suit against defendants C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., claiming that they should be held liable for strict liability and negligence because of the Meridian Filter’s allegedly defective design and warnings. Johnson also claimed negligence per se. She sought damages for risk of future injury and punitive damagages.
The Meridian Filter is a prescription medical device designed to prevent pulmonary embolisms. It is conical in shape and consists of a main shaft to which twelve struts (six arms and six legs) are attached. The device is implanted in the inferior vena cava (“IVC”) — the largest vein in the human body — where its arms and legs open to anchor the filter in the vein’s walls. Once implanted, the filter is designed to prevent blood clots from traveling to the heart, lungs, or brain. The Meridian Filter was designed to be a “retrievable” filter that could be implanted, then percutaneously removed at a later time, although defendants also represented that it was safe for permanent use.
Both of plaintiff’s experts — Dr. Darren Hurst and Robert McMeeking — opined that the Meridian Filter is subject to the same complications experienced with Bard’s earlier retrievable filters. As a result, at the time the Meridian Filter was placed in Johnson, Dr. Hurst opined that the risks associated with that filter exceeded the alleged benefits. Dr. Hurst further opined that the Simon Nitinol Filter was a safer alternative filter for Johnson than the Meridian Filter. Similarly, McMeeking opined that the Simon Nitinol Filter is a safer IVC Filter than any of defendants’ retrievable filters. Nevertheless, there have been reported complications linked to all IVC filters, including the Simon Nitinol Filter, and at least one medical article shows a comparable rate of migration for the Simon Nitinol Filter as compared to certain other IVC filters. Defendants argued that because no comparative studies have been done between IVC filters, definitive comparison rates do not exist.
Dr. Hurst opined that the Meridian Filter implanted in plaintiff Johnson failed to perform as a reasonable physician or patient would expect, having penetrated the IVC, with two of the filter’s arms fracturing and remaining in Johnson’s body. According to Dr. Hurst, the failure of Johnson’s filter has also put her at an increased risk of future complications. In particular, he explained that one of the fractured arms has penetrated her right ventricular wall, and it poses a risk of future complications, including hemorrhage, pericardial tamponade, arrhythmia, and cardiac damage. He further opined that there is a fragment of the Filter still within the wall of the IVC, creating a future risk of infection, chronic pain or irritation, and hemorrhage. Finally, Dr. Hurst opined that these fragments would require open surgical procedures to remove if complications do occur, and any complications or surgery could result in serious morbidity or death.
As a result of the fractured struts which remain in her body, Johnson testified that she suffers from anxiety about this possible, future harm. Nevertheless, she has not experienced any physical symptoms related to her filter or the fractured struts. Additionally, she has not been prevented from doing anything that she could do before receiving the filter and has faced no limits on her daily activities due to the filter.
If you or a loved one were seriously injured (or worse) due to a Bard IVC filter, you should promptly find a defective medical device claim lawyer who may investigate your IVC filter claim for you or your loved one and represent you or your loved one in a claim for compensation due to the harm suffered as a result of a defective IVC filter, if appropriate.
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