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In re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, D. Arizona

April 18, 2018

IN RE Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation,
v.
C. R. Bard, Inc., a New Jersey corporation; and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc., an Arizona corporation, Defendants. Doris Jones, an individual, Plaintiff,

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell, United States District Judge.

         The Court held a hearing with the parties on April 13, 2018, to discuss matters decided for the Booker trial that the parties wish to have reconsidered for the Jones trial. The Court took two matters under advisement: whether evidence of the complications, testing, and design of the Recovery filter should be admitted in the Jones trial, and whether evidence of deaths caused by cephalad migration of the Recovery filter should be admitted. These matters were the subject of briefing before the hearing and argument during the hearing. See Docs. 10677, 10707.

         Plaintiff Doris Jones was implanted with a Bard Eclipse filter in August 2010. The filter later fractured, and a strut migrated to Ms. Jones' lung. She asserts claims for defective design, failure to warn, fraudulent concealment, and punitive damages.

         A. Evidence of Recovery Filter Complications, Testing, and Design.

         Defendants note that the relevant progression of their retrievable filter line is as follows: Recovery, G2, G2X, Eclipse. They argue that the Eclipse filter at issue in this case is three generations removed from the Recovery filter and that complications with the Recovery therefore are not relevant to the alleged design defects or failure to warn related to the Eclipse.

         Plaintiff claims that design defects in the Eclipse trace directly back to the Recovery, and that those defects can be understood only in the context of the entire filter-line development. Plaintiff asserts that problems with the Recovery led directly to a poorly-tested set of changes in the G2 filter; that those changes created other problems in the G2, including tilt, fracture, and caudal migration (away from the head); that the G2X and Eclipse filters were essentially the same as the G2, adding only a retrieval hook and electropolishing; and that Bard acted unreasonably in failing to implement effective tests and design changes when developing the G2, and, later, in failing to correct apparent G2 problems, leading directly to the Eclipse defects that caused Ms. Jones' injury. Doc. 10707.

         The Court concludes that the Recovery filter's complications, testing, and design are relevant to this case. Those events help explain the testing, development, and design of the G2, and Plaintiff contends that the G2 was essentially the filter she received. The history of the Recovery and how it led to the G2 tends to make a fact in dispute - the allegedly defective design of the Eclipse - more probable. Fed.R.Evid. 401.

         The Court cannot conclude that evidence of the Recovery's complications, testing, and design should be precluded under Rule 403. The Court does not find such evidence to be unfairly prejudicial - it is a relevant part of the Eclipse filter's design history. Further, Plaintiff's counsel presented much of the same evidence during the Booker trial. Although the Court felt that Plaintiff's counsel were less efficient in that trial than they could have been, the Court will hold Plaintiff to the established time limits in this case and concludes that Recovery filter evidence will not result in a waste of time or confusion of the issues. See Doc. 10587.

         B. Evidence of Deaths Caused by Recovery Filter Cephalad Migration.

         Deaths caused by the Recovery filter's cephalad migration (toward the head) present a different question. Such deaths might clear the threshold for relevancy in Rule 401 because, as explained above, they are part of the history of the filter line's development. But for several reasons the Court finds this relevancy to be marginal in Ms. Jones' case.

         First, the complication of cephalad migration did not continue in any significant degree beyond the Recovery filter. As Plaintiff's counsel admitted during the April 13 hearing, changes made in response to cephalad migration largely eliminated that direction of migration in the G2 and later filters. The Court's notes from the Booker trial reflect that Plaintiff identified only one instance of cephalad migration by a G2 filter. And Plaintiff's counsel acknowledged during the hearing that they are not aware of any instances of death caused by cephalad migration of G2, G2X, or Eclipse filters.

         Second, the cephalad migration deaths all occurred before the Recovery filter was taken off the market in late 2005. Ms. Jones did not receive her Eclipse filter until January of 2010. The passage of more than four years and three filter generations makes the cephalad migration deaths remote in time.

         Third, the cephalad migration deaths say nothing about several of Ms. Jones' claims in this case: strict liability design defect, strict liability failure to warn, negligent failure to warn, or fraudulent concealment. Proof of the cephalad migration deaths from the Recovery filter in 2004 and 2005 does not show that the Eclipse filter had a design defect when it left Defendants' control several years later, or that Defendants' later warnings regarding the Eclipse were inadequate or fraudulent.

         The cephalad migration deaths arguably are more relevant to Ms. Jones' negligent design defect claim because they help show the extent to which Defendants allegedly failed to exercise reasonable care in designing and testing the G2 filter. But the things Defendants allegedly failed to do in developing the G2 - perform a viable root cause analysis, test adequately, follow established design principles - can all be shown through Plaintiff's experts and without mention of the cephalad migration deaths. The deaths arguably could make these failures appear even more negligent because Defendants were aware of severe consequences from the Recovery's design, but they ...


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