A Phoenix jury awarded $2 million in punitive damages on top of $2 million in compensatory damages to a woman who claimed the IVC filter implanted in her body fractured, causing bits of metal to lodge in her spine and heart. It only took the jury 16 minutes to reach their decision for punitive damages.
The jury found the device maker, C.R. Bard, responsible for 80 percent of the compensatory damages. A radiologist who failed to flag a visible metal shard on an X-ray before it punctured the woman’s heart resulting in open heart surgery, was found responsible for the remaining 20 percent of compensatory damages. In total, Bard was slapped with $3.6 million in damages, and the radiologist with $400,000.
The punitive damages phase of the first bellwether involving Bard’s IVC filter devices immediately followed Friday’s verdict. During the punitive phase, plaintiffs attorneys informed the jury that Bard had more than $1 billion cash on hand as of September 2017, and that its market value was $17.3 billion as of June 2016. They also revealed that one of Bard’s top executives made $35.2 million over a three-year period.
Plaintiff Sherr-Una Booker was implanted with Bard’s IVC filter, a blood clot-catching device, when she was 37. IVC filters are cage-like devices implanted in the inferior vena cava, a large vein in the body that delivers deoxygenated blood from the lover extremities to the heart and lungs. The device is intended to catch blood clots before they reach the heart or lungs and cause serious injuries.
In 2009, Booker had an X-ray during which a radiologist noticed the IVC filter had fractured. The bits eventually migrated within her body and lodged in her spine and heart, requiring Booker to undergo open-heart surgery. In 2014, Booker underwent surgery to remove the wayward bits of metal from the fractured filter, with only partial success.
Booker’s case is one of more than 3,600 pending in a multidistrict litigation over various brands of Bard IVC filters. Booker was implanted with Bard’s G2 device. The next case involves Bard’s fourth-generation filter, the Eclipse.