Indianapolis, Indiana – Cook Medical was granted a new trial after the Honorable Richard L. Young, a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, admitted to errors in allowing inadmissible evidence to be presented to the jury by counsel for Plaintiff, Tonya Brand.
Ms. Brand was implanted with a Cook Celect® Inferior Vena Cava Filter (“Cook IVC Filter”) prior to undergoing a complex spine surgery in March 2009. The next month, imaging was taken that showed the filter perforating Ms. Brand’s IVC in multiple places and that one of the filter’s “struts” was hooked on a bone spur. The Cook IVC Filter later fractured in three places in just over two years after its initial placement. A piece of the Cook IVC Filter emerged through Ms. Brand’s thigh. After a failed attempt by Ms. Brand’s doctor to retrieve the filter in July 2011, the doctor and Ms. Brand elected to leave the fractured Cook IVC Filter in place until it was removed in 2015. Ms. Brand filed a products liability suit in November 2014 and was awarded a jury verdict in the amount of $3 million on February 1, 2019.
A new trial may be granted if the trial was not fair to the moving party or if the improper admission of evidence has a “substantial influence on the jury” and the result was “inconsistent with substantial justice.” The main piece of evidence objected to by Cook was Brand’s trial exhibit 1913 (“PX-1913”). This exhibit was an email chain between Cook employees including multiple instances of hearsay and a table with details of 27 deaths associated with Cook IVC Filters. The Court on review found Ms. Brand’s injuries were not substantially similar to those patients listed on the table and the emails contained inadmissible hearsay and therefore PX-1913 was improperly admitted. Further, Ms. Brand’s counsel relied heavily on the connection between the Cook IVC Filter and death based on PX-1913 which was found to be inappropriate and prejudicial on review. Finally, the Court found “a jury could have just as easily found in Cook’s favor.” and because this trial was so close it, “is more likely to have been affected by errors.” Therefore, the Court granted Cook’s Motion for New Trial.