Fifth Circuit Affirms C.R. Bard’s Motion for Summary Judgment Dismissing Medical Device Product Liability Claims

On Wednesday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion for Nelson v. C.R. Bard, Inc. affirming the Southern District of Mississippi’s grant of summary judgment to Bard. 

According to the opinion, Dennis Nelson and his wife, Kathy Nelson, sued the defendants, C.R. Bard, Inc. and Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. (Bard), for products liability in September 2017 as part of a multidistrict litigation suit. The court states that the Nelsons initiated the present suit after Dennis experienced complications following the implantation of an inferior vena cava filter that was designed, manufactured, marketed and sold by Bard. 

The opinion states that the filters made by Bard are generally placed inside the body in an effort to prevent blood clots from reaching critical organs such as the heart, lungs or brain. Further, each filter comes with an information-for-use pamphlet that contains information including warnings, precautions, instructions and potential complications. 

The opinion purports that Dennis was implanted with a Bard filter in 2005 and that medical imaging taken in 2019 showed that the filter had fractured with some fractures penetrating Dennis’ inferior vena cava wall and others that had migrated to different parts of his body. Dennis then underwent three surgeries to remove the filters and fractures, but one fragment remains in his pulmonary artery. 

In September 2019, the Nelson’s case was transferred to the Southern District of Mississippi and in March 2021, both the Nelsons and Bard filed motions for summary judgment. On August 6th 2021, the district court granted Bard’s motion for summary judgment holding that Bard had expressly warned of the complications Dennis suffered and that the Nelsons did not provide adequate evidence for a design defect claim. 

The Nelsons subsequently appealed the judgment to the Fifth Circuit. The Fifth Circuit held that Bard had warned in two different locations that filter fracture and migration were known complications of the product. Additionally, the Fifth Circuit stated that the Nelsons failed to direct the district court to adequate evidence to support a design defect claim. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to bard for the failure to warn and design defect claims. 

The Nelsons are represented by the Lamothe Law Firm, and bard is represented by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.