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Cook Medical Asks for More Time to Prepare for Settlement Negotiations

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In October 2014, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated in all federally filed Cook IVC filter lawsuits into one court in the Southern District of Indiana, in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Since then, the parties have been busy preparing the first few cases to go to trial beginning in September of this year.

The court scheduled a settlement conference for March 2016—where the parties would meet to discuss potential settlement negotiations with a U.S. magistrate judge. This conference was originally scheduled to take place in February, but then was pushed back to March 22-24.

In a recent motion, however, the defendants requested that the court again postpone the conference asking for an additional 60 days of preparation time.

Cook Says Their Counsel Needs Time to Investigate the Cook IVC Lawsuits

According to the motion, which was submitted to the court on February 9, 2016, the defendants first retained their settlement counsel on February 5th. They assert that said counsel needs time to investigate the Cook IVC lawsuits that are pending in the MDL, review information regarding the medical devices, and confer with their clients.

The defendants stated that their settlement counsel plans to confer with the plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel in person, regarding the cases as a whole. According to the current case list, there are more than 250 cases pending in the MDL, with more expected to be filed in the coming months. Therefore, Cook requests an additional 60 days for their settlement counsel to complete their review and investigation.

The settlement conference was scheduled in the hopes of facilitating negotiations between the parties, to provide for a faster and easier resolution of the litigation. If the parties fail to reach settlements when the conference does occur, it is likely that the trials will go forward as planned. These early trials known as bellwethers, help gauge how juries may respond to the evidence. After a few are decided, the resulting verdicts may encourage the parties to go back to the table for settlement negotiations.

Plaintiffs Claim Cook Designed Defective IVC Filters

Plaintiffs involved in the Cook MDL allege that Cook Medical defectively designed and manufactured their IVC filters. These devices are implanted in the inferior vena cava (IVC), the main vein that takes blood from the lower legs back to the lungs and heart. Once implanted, the filters trap and hold any blood clots that may come along, allowing them to dissipate before they can travel to the lungs and potentially cause a pulmonary embolism.

In some patients, however, the Cook IVC filters moved or migrated from their original positions, perforating the vein and sometimes becoming embedded in other bodily organs. Some patients have ended up in the hospital because of these serious side effects. Though the filters are designed to be temporary, there are cases where doctors cannot remove them without creating further risk to the patient because the devices have become so embedded in the tissues.

Studies have found that Cook IVC filters are prone to fracture and migration, and in May 2014, the FDA released a safety notification advising doctors to remove IVC filters as soon as possible after the danger of pulmonary embolism had passed—ideally between 29 and 54 days after implantation.