Tonya Brand made headlines for emerging victorious in her case against Cook Medical, Inc., the manufacturer of the Cook MDL 2570 IVC Filter, a device which Ms. Brand was forced to remove from her thigh when it broke apart inside her body back in 2011.
IVC (inferior vena cava) filters are designed to filter out life-threatening blood clots, but when left in too long, they can deteriorate, migrate and even perforate the inferior vena cava.
An Indiana jury agreed the design of the device was defective and awarded Ms. Brand $3 million. The jury, however, did not find enough evidence against Cook Medical, Inc. to warrant any punitive damages.
This is the third bellwether trial against Cook regarding this particular device, but the first that has swung in favor of the plaintiff.
What implications does this trial have for the more than 5,000 claims filed against the company or the thousands more lawsuits that have been filed against other IVC filter manufacturers?
The Bellwether IVC Filter Trial
According to VanDerGinst Law CEO and Attorney Dennis VanDerGinst, “A bellwether trial is a test of sorts, to see how a jury would respond to a particular kind of case. When bellwethers are tried, both the plaintiff and the defense gain insight from the questions the jury poses and the amount of damages that are awarded which they can use as guidance for future cases and for settlement purposes.”
VanDerGinst adds that a bellwether case may not always be the strongest case among the pool of cases, but rather a case that is perhaps more difficult or has a specific issue or unique aspect that both sides are interested to see how it would play out in front of a jury.
Refusal of Punitive Damages
Noteworthy, in this case, was the refusal to award any punitive damages, designed to punish the defendant for gross negligence or reckless disregard in their actions.
“Unfortunately, you do find this awarded very frequently in cases of defective devices,” says VanDerGinst, noting other cases where juries were able to find companies were intentionally harmful.
A Precedent IVC Filter Case?
Can this case set a precedent within the current legal landscape for trying IVC filter cases?
“We can’t read too much into it right now,” says VanDerGinst, adding, “But we have to assume it is assisting the parties in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of these types of cases.”
VanDerGinst encourages anyone who has any questions about an injury caused by an IVC filter to seek legal guidance to see if there’s the potential for compensation.
“If you’ve suffered a similar kind of injury from an IVC filter, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to establish the case and our firm has been keeping close tabs on bellwether results such as these to use as guidance.”
Contact VanDerGinst Law
If you or a loved one has had an IVC Filter implanted and experienced these or any other complications, VanDerGinst Law would be honored to help.
The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win.
If you suffered an injury in Iowa or Illinois, contact VanDerGinst Law, P.C. at 800-960-8529.
The law is tough and being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.
More information on IVC filters and the risks of their placement.
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