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The federal multi-district litigation panel has appointed a federal judge in Phoenix to oversee the C.R. Bard Inc. (NYSE: BCR) IVC filter litigation nationwide, which includes upwards of 400 cases in which patients blame the New Jersey-based company of marketing a defective product.

The company’s IVC filter was designed to catch blood clots in patients who could not tolerate blood thinners, but lawyers nationwide are filing lawsuits alleging personal injuries.

C.R. Bard Inc. Building

New Jersey-based C.R. Bard Inc. Operates this facility in Tempe

Company officials declined comment on pending litigation, but according to the publicly traded company’s Form 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended March 31, Bard faces about 345 lawsuits that were part of the IVC Filter MDL. Another 30 lawsuits are pending in various state courts across the country, and a Canadian class-action lawsuit was filed against Bard in Quebec in March.

James Morris, an attorney with Morris Law Firm in Los Angeles, said he has somewhere between 30 and 40 of the MDL lawsuits on file with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. He said that’s small compared to other law firms that are representing upwards of 100 cases.

The problem with the IVC filter is that pieces can break off and travel and potentially pierce other parts of the body or get embedded in the tissue and be difficult to remove, Morris said.

But at least two Phoenix interventional cardiologists say the fault lies with the physicians and patients, and not so much the manufacturer.

The temporary IVC filters are supposed to be taken out within six months, but many times if the interventional radiologist or an emergency room physician put the filter in a patient, these doctor’s don’t have a follow-up relationship with teh patient and patients may forget the device needs to be removed after a certain period, said Dr. Richard Heuser, chief cardiologist at St. Luke’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

He said he doesn’t blame those doctors.

“They’re good at putting them in and taking them out, but they have no relationship with the family,” Heuser said. “From the consumer standpoint, if you have one placed, you need to make sure to follow up with your primary care physician and ask when it should be taken out.”

Dr. Nathan Laufer, director of the Heart and Vascular Center of Arizona here in Phoenix, said he’s never seen any of the IVC filters break off and get lodged into another part of a patient’s body.

“Lawsuits will be lawsuits and lawyers are looking for a place to sue,” he said.

He said he uses the IVC filters in patients when needed.

“You need to have strong indications for putting them in,” Laufer said. “There are very diverse practice guidelines, depending on which society you talk to. There is no standardization with the medical community.”


-Article from the Phoenix Business Journal