The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) reports that there are 3,081 lawsuits pending against Cook Medical, Inc. (Cook), in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the company’s retrievable inferior vena cava (IVC) filters. Retrievable IVC filters are used as an alternative in trauma patients when they are unable to take blood thinners. The cage-like device is used to help prevent venous thromboembolism, such as deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. It is implanted in the inferior vena cava to catch blood clots that form in the legs and keep them from reaching the heart, lungs and other vital organs, as discussed previously by Beasley Allen.

Patients have filed lawsuits nationwide against Cook and other IVC filter manufacturers because the design is more fragile than that of their predecessors – permanent IVC filters. Fragmented pieces of retrievable IVC filters can travel through the body perforating or puncturing organs and causing other potentially life-threating injuries. In one study, the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology reports, Cook’s Celect and Gunther Tulip IVC filters have 49 percent and 43 percent perforation rates, respectively.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned in August 2010 that retrievable IVC filters should be implanted only for short-term use because of the adverse effects linked to the devices, as we have previously reported. Following the FDA safety warning, filter placements dropped by 29 percent. Yet, the rate of IVC filter placement remains significantly higher in the U.S. than in five large European countries. The Cook MDL is located in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District for Indiana. Another IVC filter MDL has consolidated 3,085 claims against C.R. Bard, Inc. That is pending in U.S. District Court in Arizona, according to the JPML, while cases involving Cordis IVC filters are consolidated in California state court.

If you would like more information about IVC filters, contact Melissa Prickett, a lawyer in our Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at

Sources: U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation and Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology

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