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Final Cook Medical bellwether trial ends with verdict for plaintiff

February 6, 2019

The third and final bellwether trial over Cook Medical’s blood clot filters has concluded with the jury returning a $3 million verdict Feb. 1 for a plaintiff who claims because of the defendants’ defective product she faces numerous health risks including the risk of death.

It is the first bellwether trial to be decided against the Bloomington-based medical products company. The trials were held as part of the multi-district litigation in the Southern Indiana District Court over the inferior vena cava filters. Plaintiffs allege the filters tend to tilt, perforate, migrate and fracture after being placed inside the patient.

The plaintiff in the last bellwether trial, Tonya Brand, was implanted with a Cook Celect Filter in March 2009 with no complications, according to her complaint. A little more than two years later, she discovered a painful area on the inside of her right thigh that then developed into a protrusion. When the protrusion popped, out came a metal wire about one-and-a-half inches long that was later determined to be one of the struts from the Cook filter. 

Attempts to remove the fractured filter were unsuccessful. Brand then sued Cook Medical Inc., Cook Inc., Cook Group, Inc. and William Cook Europe APS.

The jury returned a verdict the same day as closing arguments, finding Brand proved that the design of the Celect IVC filter was defective and was the proximate cause of her injury.

Tuesday, Judge Richard Young of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana granted Cook’s motion to seal the courtroom during the discussion of the company’s net worth.

Attorneys representing the plaintiff and defendants did not provide comment.

Brand claims Cook knew its filter was defective and failed to tell physicians and patients the device could break and migrate or damage the vena cava wall. She asserted the company was negligent and breached its expressed and implied warranties associated with the filter.

Cook denied the allegations. The company asserted it had not duty to warn plaintiffs of any risks because the medical device was supplied to a knowledgeable and sophisticated user or a “learned intermediary” with adequate warnings and instructions for use. Further, the company maintained the device complied with applicable codes, standards regulations or specifications of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Finally, the company stated the plaintiff’s damages were caused by the plaintiff herself or by the fault of other products, persons or entities over whom Cook has no control.

The trial for Brand v. Cook Medical et al., 1:14-cv-6018, began Jan. 14 at the Birch Byah Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis.

The first bellwether trial, Hill v. Cook Medical, 1:14-cv-6016, ended Nov. 11, 2017 with a jury verdict that the plaintiff had not proven the design of the Celect IVC filter was defective. In the second bellwether trial, Gage v. Cook Medical, 1:14-cv-1875, the court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

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