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Cook Medical IVC Filter Plaintiffs Hope for Settlement before September Trials

Jul 15, 2016

In the multidistrict litigation (MDL) involving Cook Medical IVC blood clot filters, plaintiffs and their attorneys hope that a settlement can be reached before cases come to trial in September 2016.

A settlement conference originally scheduled for March 2016 was postponed to allow the defendant's attorneys more time to confer with their client and to review findings and research about the filters, the New York City Legal Examiner reports.

IVC filters are the focus of hundreds of injury lawsuits filed against Cook Medical and other manufacturers of the devices. Cook Medical faces about 250 suits that have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) overseen by a federal district court in the Southern District of Indiana.

IVC blood clot filters are intended to prevent blood clots from traveling from the lower body to the heart or lungs, where they can cause problems. The small, spider-like filter is inserted into the inferior vena cava-the body's largest vein-so that it can trap blood clots. IVC filters are used for patients at risk for blood clots who are unable to take blood-thinning drugs or for whom the drugs do not work well enough.

The patients who filed the lawsuits in the Cook MDL allege that the Cook IVC filter can move from the original insertion site, becoming lodged elsewhere in the body. The filter may tilt and is then not effective in trapping clots. The “legs” of the filter can break while in the body and pieces can migrate to other parts of the body. Broken-off pieces can puncture veins or get lodged in internal organs and intestines or cause clots. IVC filter patients have reported severe pain, bleeding, further clots, and other complications.

Some patients must be hospitalized for the removal of filter pieces, but because of where pieces may lodge, removal is not always possible. When the filter or pieces remain in the body, the patient can be at risk of further injury and long-term health complications.

IVC filters are usually intended to be temporary and the filter should be removed when the patient is not longer at risk for blood clots. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently advised that it is best to remove IVC filters between 29 and 54 days after implantation to reduce the risk of the device breaking or migrating elsewhere within the body

The cases against Cook Medical arise from allegations that the IVC blood-clot filters are defective and dangerous. In legal documents, the plaintiffs claim Cook did not adequately warn doctors and patients of the risks of serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects.

In a larger litigation like this one, the bellwether trial process brings a small number of representative cases before juries. The outcome of the bellwether cases can influence how the remaining cases are handled, either through additional individual trials or through a settlement. In some litigations, as the two sides see the evidence the other side will present at trial, they decide to try to reach a settlement before cases go to trial.

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