What Should I Know About IVC Filter Lawsuits?

veinsInferior vena cava filters, or IVC filters, are medical devices used to prevent dangerous blood clots in trauma patients or extremely obese patients going in for surgery who either can't take a blood-thinning medication or for whom anticoagulants have proven ineffective.

IVC filters are laparoscopically inserted in the neck or groin and threaded into the inferior vena cava, the large vein responsible for carrying de-oxygenated blood from the legs to the heart. These devices are designed to prevent serious and sometimes deadly thrombosis-related problems, such as pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs), strokes, and deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs).

As many as 250,000 IVC filters are implanted in patients each year in the United States and, although the practice is widespread, it's not without controversy. IVC filters have been linked to a number of life-threatening complications, including some of the very ones they were designed to prevent.

We've compiled answers to the most common questions our clients ask about IVC filters, related complications, and pending litigation. If you have additional questions, or are considering filing an IVC filter lawsuit, contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial case consultation.

What are IVC filters?
Which IVC filter models are named in lawsuits?
How do IVC filters work?
When were IVC filters approved by the FDA?
When should retrievable IVC filters be removed?
Why are people filing IVC filter lawsuits?
Is there a class-action IVC filter lawsuit?
Have IVC filters been recalled?
Has the FDA issued any warnings about IVC filters?
What side effects or complications are associated with IVC filters?
What should I do if I experienced serious complications from an IVC filter?
Have IVC filter lawsuits already been filed?
How long do I have to file an IVC filter lawsuit?
How much does it cost to file an IVC filter lawsuit?
How long will an IVC filter lawsuit take?
What damages can I recover in an IVC filter lawsuit?


Q: What are IVC filters?

A: IVC filters are small, cone-shaped devices surrounded by as many as 12 spider-like wire “legs.” When inserted into the inferior vena cava, whether via the neck or groin, the filter catches blood clot fragments to prevent them from reaching the lungs, brain or leg, where they could cause pulmonary embolisms, strokes, and deep vein thrombosis. IVC filters are available in both permanent and temporary models.
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Q: Which IVC filter models are named in lawsuits?

A: Currently, there are eight different IVC filter models named in lawsuits, all of which are from the manufacturers Bard and Cook. These models include: Bard Recovery Filter®, Bard G2 Filter®, Bard G2 Express Filter®, Bard Eclipse®, Bard Meridian®, Bard Denali®, Cook Select®, and Cook Gunther Tulip®.
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Q: How do IVC filters work?

A: IVC filters are small, cone-shaped devices with a number of tiny spider-like “tentacles.” Once implanted in the inferior vena cava, the filter's tentacles catch fragments of blood clots that would otherwise travel to the lungs or heart, resulting in pulmonary embolism, stroke, or even death. IVC filters are most commonly used in patients who either can't take anticoagulant medications, or for whom anticoagulants are ineffective.
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Q: When were IVC filters approved by the FDA?

A: Permanent IVC filters gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s, while retrievable or temporary IVC filter were approved for sale in U.S. markets in the 1990s. Despite being more recent technology, the majority of IVC filter problems are caused by the retrievable devices. Permanent IVC filters feature a sturdy design that can be left in place indefinitely, whereas temporary IVC filters are flexible. Although this flexibility has some advantages, it makes it far too easy for the devices to break apart or migrate to another part of the body.
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Q: When should retrievable IVC filters be removed?

A: In addition to flexible designs that are prone to breakage, one of the main problems with retrievable IVC filters is that they're rarely removed, despite being intended for temporary use. The FDA cautions that IVC filters can become a health hazard just four weeks after implantation, and its official guidelines encourage doctors to remove the devices within 54 days. When left in place for too long, the risks of the IVC filter begin to outweigh its benefits.
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Q: Why are people filing IVC filter lawsuits?

A: Plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturers claim that the devices were poorly designed and insufficiently tested before entering the market. Additionally, plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against IVC filter manufacturer Bard cite court documents stating that the company was made aware of potential complications as early as 2004, but continued to market and sell the devices.
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Q: Is there a class-action IVC filter lawsuit?

A: Yes. IVC filter class-action lawsuits have been filed in three states: California, Pennsylvania, and Arizona. However, potential plaintiffs don't have to live in one of these three states in order to join pending class-action lawsuits. Additionally, plaintiffs also have the option of filing an individual personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their injuries.
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Q: Have IVC filters been recalled?

A: IVC filters have not been recalled by the FDA, and are still in widespread use in the United States. However, despite this fact, individual manufacturers have recalled certain IVC filter models or removed them from the market due to various issues. For example, in 2013, the Cordis Corporation recalled Optease® IVC filters distributed between 2010 and 2013, citing unclear instructions that could cause doctors to place the devices backward. Also, although Bard did not pull its products from the market, it voluntarily replaced the problematic Discovery® IVC filter with the G2® and G2 Express® filters.
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Q: Has the FDA issued any warnings about IVC filters?

A: In response to numerous reports of adverse events, the FDA has issued several warnings regarding IVC filter devices. The first, issued in 2010, warned patients and doctors that the risk of IVC filter complications increases the longer the device is left in place. Another warning issued in 2014 cited research showing IVC filters should be removed between 29 and 54 days after implantation to reduce the risk of serious injury. According to the FDA, if an IVC filter remains in place longer than 54 days, the risks associated with the device begin to outweigh its benefits.
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Q: What side effects or complications are associated with IVC filters?

A: Retrievable IVC filters, which are only recommended for temporary use, are notorious for causing a number of serious and even life-threatening side effects and complications. These devices can:

  • Puncture veins or organs
  • Migrate to other parts of the body
  • Cause recurrent blood clots in the legs, vena cava, or insertion site
  • Cause filter embolization in the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys

Additionally, the filter may break apart, become infected, or cause recurrent pulmonary embolism—the very condition the device is intended to prevent. In some cases, IVC filters may even cause death.
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Q: What should I do if I experienced serious complications from an IVC filter?

A: If you experienced a serious IVC filter complication—such as a perforated vein or organ—have your doctor carefully document the condition in your medical records. Then, find an experienced and reputable personal injury attorney and discuss filing a lawsuit against the device's manufacturer. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible to seek financial compensation for your injuries.
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Q: Have IVC filter lawsuits already been filed?

A: Yes. The first IVC filter lawsuits were filed against manufacturer C.R. Bard in Pennsylvania and California state courts in 2012. Two years later, there were so many IVC filter lawsuits that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated them into a multidistrict legislation to be heard in Indiana's Southern District. Additionally, a number of IVC filter lawsuits are currently being presented in state and federal courts. 
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Q: How long do I have to file an IVC filter lawsuit?

A: States set time limits—known as statutes of limitation—determining how long plaintiffs have to file a lawsuit against an offending party. Although these laws aren't the same in every state, most states give potential personal injury plaintiffs just two years to file their lawsuit. The statute of limitations “clock” counts down from the date you were diagnosed with the IVC filter-related complication or injury, and people who wait too long to file forfeit their right to take legal action in the matter. Contact McGartland Law to learn more about the statute of limitations laws in your state.
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Q: How much does it cost to file an IVC filter lawsuit?

A: Limited financial resources shouldn't get in the way of justice, which is why many personal injury law firms—including McGartland Law—work on a contingency fee basis. This means that clients aren't required to put down any money up front in order to secure legal representation, and are only billed for the firm's legal services if the firm wins the case. When and if it does resolve the case in a client's favor, the client pays the attorney a percentage of the settlement.
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Q: How long will an IVC filter lawsuit take?

A: The amount of time it takes to resolve a case depends largely on the case, as well as the parties involved, which can make it difficult to determine just how long a lawsuit will take to litigate. Some plaintiffs opt for a pre-trial settlement, while others take their cases all the way to court, where the matter can take days, weeks, months, or even years to resolve. Contact McGartland Law today to make an appointment for a free initial consultation. After discussing the details of your case, our attorneys may have a better idea of how long your potential IVC lawsuit may take.
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Q: What damages can I recover in an IVC filter lawsuit?

A: If your IVC filter punctured a vein or organ, or pieces broke off and migrated, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the device's manufacturer for both special and general damages. Special damages, also known as economic damages, compensate the plaintiff for financial losses, such as medical costs (including office visits, hospitalizations, treatments, surgeries, treatment-related travel expenses, and more); wages missed during recovery; and loss of earning potential if your injuries will keep you from working indefinitely. Plaintiffs can also pursue a monetary award for general damages, such as pain and suffering. McGartland Law's skilled legal team can discuss your case with you to determine what damages may apply.
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