A Boca Raton law firm has brought multiple lawsuits in Florida against Miami Lakes-based medical device manufacturer Cordis Corp.—the latest in a rising wave of litigation alleging faulty vascular filters caused death and injury.
Personal injury firm Osborne & Associates is litigating three lawsuits in Palm Beach Circuit Court against Cordis, a former Johnson & Johnson affiliate divested to Cardinal Health Inc. for about $2 billion in 2015. It has 21 other cases pending against the manufacturer in state court in California.
Cordis is one of at least three major manufacturers facing widespread litigation hinged on claims IVC filters punctured veins, migrated to other parts of the body, caused organ damage and other major medical complications.
Indiana-based Cook Medical and Georgia-based Bard Medical Division face about 5,800 IVC filter lawsuits in federal court. Thousands of pending cases have been consolidated into two multidistrict litigations, with lawsuits against Cook moved to Indiana while Bard’s MDL play out in Arizona.
The Florida defendant, Cordis, manufactures the TRAPEASE Vena Cava Filter, designed to protect the heart and lungs from fatal blood clots. Its product is a nickel titanium alloy device with a double basket intended to filter or catch clots traveling via the inferior vena cava, a large vein that carries deoxygenated blood to the heart and lungs from the body’s lower extremities. Its filter gained approval from the Food and Drug Administration for helping to prevent death from pulmonary embolism and thrombosis.
But mounting lawsuits claim manufacturing defects endanger patients by making the filters prone to fracture, disintegration and migration through the blood system.
“Sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease,” said litigator Joseph Osborne. “The filter itself becomes dangerous.”
The latest Florida lawsuit attributes the death of New Jersey resident Martino Convertino to Cordis’ alleged defective design and manufacture, deceptive marketing and failure to warn of the product’s risks.
Convertino was 68 years old in October 2012 when he got a TrapEase IVC filter implant. He died in March 2016 from thrombosis after checking into a New Jersey emergency room with lightheadedness and severe pain in his back, according to the lawsuit by his wife, Carmine. His autopsy noted “acute inferior vena cava dissection and rupture with evidence of pre-existing microscopic chronic dissection adjacent to IV filter struts.”
Plaintiffs lawyers say the filters’ anchoring mechanism fails over time, causing the devices to become dislodged and float in the body, not only losing the ability to catch clots but also interfering with blood flow.
That displacement caused the device to puncture the walls of Convertino’s vein, causing bleeding and clotting that cost him his life, according to pleadings.
“We believe these filters were never meant for permanent implantation,” Osborne said.
The five-count complaint in the Convertino suit alleges negligence, strict products liability—design defect; negligent misrepresentation; strict products liability—failure to warn; and strict products liability—manufacturing defect.
It is the second death suit in Florida against Cordis by Osborne & Associates. In June, the firm filed an amended complaint in a wrongful death suit by plaintiff Heather Lilla, personal representative of the estate of Raymond Lilla.
Cordis declined comment.
“This is among the first death lawsuits in South Florida against Cordis for this product,” Osborne said. “This is a big step in a growing body of litigation around the country against manufacturers of IVC filters that not only fail to protect people, but place them at greater risk of injury and even death.”