Wrongful Deaths Due to IVC Filters

A wrongful death claim is a claim that someone’s death was caused by the malfeasance, misfeasance, negligence, or defect of product manufactured by another. Someone can have a personal injury case that becomes a wrongful death case and this is not particular to device litigation or mass tort cases.

Just like any other case, if someone has an instance where a strut from one of these filters broke off and embolized to their heart and caused death, then they have a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of that filter, because that is not the way the filter should have behaved in their body. This would be a legitimate claim to bring in litigation, ideally through the representation of a lawyer.

If someone is hit by a car and the driver was negligent when they ran that person over and that person is injured, then they have a personal injury case. If someone dies from injuries associated from that accident, then that will convert into a wrongful death claim. It is possible for someone to die from complications with an IVC filter, in these cases the family may wish to work with an IVC filter lawyer to bring a wrongful death action.

Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim

Who can bring a wrongful death claim is a little difficult to define, because it varies from state to state. Mass tort cases are centralized in federal court where the federal court applies the law of the various states for the cases because it falls under what is called diversity jurisdiction in federal court.

The general scheme, however, is that a personal representative or an executor is assigned and opens up an estate and that estate or the executor or personal representative of the estate also represents the interest of any survivor such as a spouse, children, and people who are financially dependent on the decedent. That personal representative or executor will prosecute the case on behalf of the estate and those survivors.

Statute of Limitations for Claims

The statute of limitations is a law. Every state has their own law and they differ depending on the type of negligence or malfeasance claimed. It is a law that says you have a certain period of time from which you knew or should have known or were injured by the negligence of another or the defect in a product manufactured by another. If you do not bring your claim within that prescribed period of time, then you may be barred from bringing a claim, subject to various tolling doctrines. For example, if you were defrauded or lured into not filing a claim, there can be exceptions. But the general rule is that you have a certain period of time in which to bring a lawsuit and if you do not bring the lawsuit, then you are forever barred—no matter how valid the lawsuit might be.

Evidence in IVC Wrongful Death Claims

The problems with IVC filters that lead to a person’s death must be demonstrated by objective evidence. There can be medical evidence—whether it be through autopsy or imaging.

There is a lot of literature on IVC filters, not all of the scientific literature refers to death claims as such, but many of the problems that the literature identifies are problems that can result in death. If someone has a strut pierce their aorta that causes internal bleeding from the largest artery in their body, which can cause death.

Embolization of struts to the heart or lungs have been demonstrated in this literature as well. A Bard article said that a 2010 study claimed, “The Bard recovery in Bard G2 filters had high prevalence of fracture and embolization with potentially life threatening sequelae or medical consequences in the body.”

The literature has recognized that a lot of these problems are in fact life threatening and when they result in a death, there is a basis for a wrongful death claim.

What to Expect from Lawsuit

Multidistrict litgitation proceedings, like the ones currently in progress for Bard and Cook IVC filters, will take years. They typically take at least two to three years, sometimes longer for all of the centralized proceedings and discovery that pertains to all the cases, whether they are personal injury or wrongful death cases. Essentially, the individual cases are filed in that federal court and they are stayed while all of that discovery goes on.

Sometimes, they have bellwether trials of a handful of cases out of the hundreds or thousands that may have been filed. They are handled very much like a personal injury case would be.

Benefits of an IVC Wrongful Death Lawyer

IVC litigation, like any medical device litigation, is very specialized. Someone dealing with an IVC case needs a lawyer who understands the issues peculiar to IVC. Wrongful death cases often have short statute of limitations periods because, unlike negligence, there is a very definite date on which someone knew or should have known—or at least the law says they knew or should have known—that someone died and they should question whether at that point in time it was a result of negligence.

Because of the short limitations periods, it is important to hire a lawyer to evaluate the claim as quickly as possible.