The lawsuit was filed by Maria T., a woman who was injured by a defective Option™ Retrievable Inferior Vena Cava Filter (“IVC Filter”).
Maria was in a motor vehicle accident in 2010, at the age of 31 years old, and hospitalized at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. While recovering, she developed Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
DVT is when blood clots grow in veins deep inside the legs or pelvis. Maria could not take blood-thinning medications to treat DVT, so doctors surgically implanted her with a “retrievable” Option blood clot filter on August 2, 2010.
The purpose of the filter was to prevent pulmonary embolism (PE), a complication of DVT that occurs when blood clots get stuck in the lungs. The filter was implanted in her inferior vena cava, a vein that carries “used” blood upward from the legs to the lungs.
Maria had no history of PE, DVT, or blood clots before she was hospitalized in 2010. She had never taken blood-thinning drugs, and eventually tested negative for genetic blood-clotting disorders.
In September 2010, only two months after the Option IVC filter was implanted, Maria suffered respiratory distress due to a pulmonary embolism. She was hospitalized again, where she developed more blood clots.
Lawyers say the Option IVC filter was responsible for her pulmonary embolism and blood clot injuries. According to the lawsuit:
[Maria’s] 2010 pulmonary embolism and subsequent clotting episodes were caused either by the Option filter’s failure to trap clots … or because the filter itself is pro-thrombotic (clot-causing).”
Five years later, on February 19, 2015, Maria went to her primary care doctor complaining of a 1-week history of severe abdominal pain. He ordered a CT scan, which showed that her Option IVC filter was still intact, but four metal legs (called “struts”) had punctured her inferior vena cava.
Over the next few weeks, she continued suffering abdominal pain radiating to her flank. Her primary care doctor believed it was due to her punctured vein and recommended removing the Option IVC filter.
On March 27, 2015, surgeons at West Florida Hospital in Pensacola tried to remove the filter. Unfortunately, the filter could not be removed because it was embedded in her vein and broken. Some of the fractured struts were retrieved, but further attempts were abandoned. Fracture was “likely due to mechanical wear,” the surgeons noted.
Maria continued to suffer abdominal and flank pain. When she told her primary care doctor that her IVC filter had not been removed, he recommended a second retrieval attempt.
Surgeons at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola made the second attempt. Again, they were unsuccessful because the pieces of her broken IVC filter were completely enveloped in tissue.
In August 2015, another CT scan showed that three of the IVC filter struts were embedded in her vein. Furthermore, the tip of the filter and one strut had punctured through the wall of her inferior vena cava.
By that time, Maria was upset and depressed, as well as suffering chronic pain. Her primary care doctor recommended a third retrieval attempt with a new team of surgeons and a new technique: Open abdominal surgery, rather than a minimally-invasive percutaneous procedure.
On September 10, 2015, surgeons performed an open exploration via abdominal incisions. They directly repaired her vein in two separate locations and removed the remaining pieces of her broken IVC filter, which were completely encapsulated in tissue. She was hospitalized for 5 days and eventually recovered.
Maria is expected to require treatment with blood-thinning medications for the rest of her life. Lawyers accuse Rex Medical of selling a defective and unreasonably dangerous medical device:
The Option filter failed to perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would expect by, among other things, failing to capture clots and/or causing or substantially contributing to causing: the formation of clots, tilting, embedding, perforating [Maria’s] IVC, fracturing, and requiring open surgical retrieval.”
The lawsuit was filed on April 3, 2017 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas — Case ID: 170400172.
There are now 3,000 other IVC filter lawsuits pending against Rex Medical L.P., Argon Medical Devices Inc., Cook Medical, C.R. Bard, B. Braun Medical Inc, and other manufacturers in state and federal court.
The plaintiff is represented by attorney Ben C. Martin, Esq. in Dallas, Texas; and attorneys Matthew D. Schultz and Andrew McGraw of the law offices of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A. in Pensacola, Florida.