On March 30, 2018, a federal jury in Arizona ordered C.R. Bard, Inc. to pay $3.6 million to a Georgia woman who suffered serious complications after the company’s G2 inferior vena cava (IVC) filter fractured inside her body.
In multidistrict litigation, a bellwether trial is intended to be a “predictor” of what will happen if other cases go to trial. Sherr-Una Booker v. C. R. Bard Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular Incorporated (2:16-cv-00474) is the first Bard blood clot filter bellwether case to go to trial in the District of Arizona multidistrict litigation (MDL 2641). The plaintiff, Sherr-Una Booker, was implanted with Bard’s G2 filter in 2007 and the device subsequently fractured, tilted and migrated, causing one of its limbs to perforate her inferior vena cava. She underwent surgery to remove the filter, however, one of the filter’s fractured limbs remains in her body.
After 11 days of trial and 6.5 hours of deliberation, the Phoenix jury ordered defendant Bard to pay Ms. Booker $1.6 million (80% of the $2 million in total compensatory damages) for failure to warn of the dangers of the filter and also ordered Bard to pay $2 million in punitive damages.
The plaintiff verdict comes just a few weeks before the start of next Bard IVC bellwether trial. Opening statements in the second case, brought by Doris and Alfred Jones, are set to begin on May 15, 2018. In the Jones case, Mrs. Jones was implanted with a Bard Eclipse IVC filter and a subsequent chest scan revealed a fractured filter limb that had embolized in her right pulmonary artery. The filter was removed but a fractured IVC filter limb remains in place.
In a recent Pretrial Order in Jones, District Judge David G. Campbell stated that the Court intends to ask the same voir dire questions, use the same preliminary and final jury instructions, and verdict form used in the Booker case.
Presently, there are over 3,600 cases pending in MDL 2641. The third bellwether case is scheduled to start on September 10, 2018, followed by the fourth bellwether trial on November 5, 2018. The outcome of these bellwether cases will likely influence the resolution of the thousands of other pending cases. Certainly, by the end of 2018, both legal teams should have a good idea of how American juries will react to the evidence surrounding Bard’s IVC filters.