The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) created a Bard PowerPort multidistrict litigation (MDL) last summer, to consolidate actions that targeted the defective design of the implanted catheter component of Bard Access System’s medical devices. However, three plaintiffs recently sought enrollment in the MDL whose complaints address the defective port reservoir of the PowerPort series.
In response, the defendants filed a motion to vacate the actions, arguing that they exceed the scope of the MDL as established by the JPML last year. The prosecution rejected this argument, exhorting the JPML to permit the inclusion of the claims for the sake of judicial economy.
The federal panel is poised to resolve the dispute in a deliberative session scheduled for January 25, 2024. Meanwhile, the parties in the Bard PowerPort lawsuits are actively conducting the discovery process and anticipating preparations for bellwether cases.
New Dispute in Bard Implanted Port Litigation Addresses Scope of MDL
At the center of the contentious dispute between the prosecution and the defense is a disagreement over the expansiveness of the MDL’s charter. The defendants, which include Becton, Dickinson and Company and its various Bard subsidiaries, contend that only those claims which allege design defects in the implanted catheter can enroll in the proceedings.
On the other hand, the prosecution asserts that the similarity of the questions of law and fact which distinct port reservoir claims pose justify their inclusion in the Bard multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The Design of Bard Implanted Catheter Medical Devices
The complex design of Bard’s medical devices includes a port reservoir, polyurethane catheter, and sealable septum, all of which are surgically implanted. However, these structural components are each prone to various defects which pose considerable risks to user health.
The majority of the pending Bard implanted port catheter lawsuits focus on the defective design of the implanted catheter, that's unstable mixture of polyurethane and barium sulfate can cause fragmentation and migration. However, the reservoir port is also subject to degradation after implantation on account of its reliance on the vulnerable polymer, polyoxymethylene.
Bard and Becton Malign “Unilateral Expansion” of Bard Powerport Multidistrict Litigation
Becton, Dickinson and Company moved to exclude port reservoir lawsuits from the Bard Powerport MDL because they overstepped the bounds of the MDL as established by the JPML. The New Jersey-based company argues in its filing that the port reservoir claims are fundamentally separate from the dozens of catheter-related actions, and pose distinct questions of fact and law.
For example, the filing differentiates between the mechanisms of injury in the lawsuits, as well as the particular injuries that the alleged design defects can cause. These differences, the defense maintains, render the inclusion of the port reservoir claims untenable and illicit.
Plaintiffs Cite Common Questions of Fact and Law in Port Reservoir Actions
The attorneys representing the port reservoir plaintiffs strongly oppose the defendants’ arguments, and reiterate in a response to the motion to vacate the viability of the claims, charges, and injuries their clients advance. The 12-page filing emphasizes the fact that the port reservoir claims target the same set of defendants as the implanted catheter lawsuits for nearly identical transgressions, including:
- Failure to warn
- Negligent marketing
- Breach of express and implied warranty
- Manifest misrepresentations
Insofar as the mechanism of injury is concerned, the plaintiffs refer to the commonality of the port and implanted catheter actions, which allege that the biomaterials used in the manufacture of the defendants’ devices were prone to malfunctions that posed immediate threats to user safety.
JPML Slated to Resolve Outstanding Disputes in Late January 2024
The JPML ultimately accepted the defendants’ motion to assess the merits of the inclusion of port reservoir claims in the multidistrict litigation. When making a decision, the federal panel will consider various criteria, including judicial economy, the risk of duplicative discovery, and the importance of consistent court rulings.
The purpose of pretrial case consolidation through an MDL procedure is to alleviate litigants and the court system of excessive financial and logistical burdens. Consequently, both parties in the Bard Powerport MDL have to persuade the body that inclusion or exclusion best facilitates the expeditious resolution of pending claims.
The defense maintains that port reservoir claims are so distinct as to necessitate altogether separate evidentiary collection, which their inclusion in the MDL could not accommodate. Contrarily, the prosecution asserts that exclusion would place undue strain on the parties, which would be obligated to address the lawsuits in various court systems throughout the country.
Injuries Linked to Defective Bard PowerPorts
Over time, the gradual degradation of Bard PowerPort catheters and port reservoirs can result in serious complications, some of which may prove life-threatening. For example, one plaintiff had to seek immediate surgery after a catheter fragment lodged itself in her heart.
The manufacturers of these devices had an ethical and legal duty to warn users and prescribing physicians of such risks but failed to do so. As a result, they may be held liable for the various injuries plaintiffs sustained, including:
Common Damages in Bard Implanted Port Lawsuits
Bard’s implanted port-a-cath devices are marketed toward individuals receiving chronic treatment, like chemotherapy, for a variety of severe illnesses. The complications caused by the devices, therefore, have only exacerbated and increased the medical emergencies of users, jeopardizing both their health and financial security.
These economic and non-economic losses may be compensable through Bard PowerPort lawsuits, which provide plaintiffs the opportunity to seek damages for:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages and income
- Decreased earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Decreased quality of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
Some plaintiffs are also in pursuit of punitive damages, which courts and juries may exact from defendants whose misconduct was unusually harmful or negligent. In order to determine the case value for your Bard PowerPort lawsuit, we recommend speaking to a skilled product liability lawyer today.
Contact an Experienced Bard PowerPort Lawyer for Help
Our qualified product liability lawyers are committed to informing prospective clients of their legal options and eligibility to file suit. We have over 120 combined years of experience in personal injury law and know how to defend our clients’ rights throughout the proceedings of multidistrict litigation.
In one of our free consultations, our legal team can determine the merits of your claim and provide an accurate compensation estimate that fully accounts for your losses. Whether you need assistance in collecting paperwork or a complete explanation of the complex logistics of enrolling in an MDL, we want to help.
If you experienced serious medical complications after receiving one of Bard’s port-a-cath products, contact us today.