The bellwether trials for Bard PowerPort multidistrict litigation (MDL) will proceed as scheduled after the judge rejected the manufacturer’s request to delay the proceedings. Bellwether trials, where a small group of cases is selected for early test trials, are important to help predict the outcome of similar lawsuits in an MDL. 

U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell set a strict deadline of July 1 for selecting key cases for the bellwether trials and has insisted on maintaining the existing timeline for the MDL proceedings, according to court documents filed in Arizona. 

The Bard PowerPort is an implantable catheter device that allows the delivery of medications, like chemotherapy, intravenously. This medical device is known as a totally implantable vascular access device (TIVAD). 

As of April 1, plaintiffs have filed approximately 115 product liability lawsuits against the medical device company alleging that their PowerPort devices malfunctioned, leading to infections, complications and other health issues after the ports were implanted. 

People claim that the Bard PowerPort has a faulty design and causes an increased risk of organ damage, infection and blood clots. The design defects could cause high injection flow rates and cause the catheter to break apart because of the pressure in the plastic tubing.

Lawyers are still accepting cases and expect the number of cases to grow as the legal proceedings continue. There is a statute of limitations that varies by state.

Bellwether Trials Important for MDL Process

In 2023, the cases against Bard were consolidated into an MDL in Arizona. An important aspect of an MDL is bellwether trials, which can help predict the outcome of similar lawsuits. Bellwethers can also determine whether the defendant would agree to a settlement.

While the litigation is still in its early phases, it’s too early to tell how much a settlement could be worth.

Campbell is the same judge who oversaw an earlier MDL involving the same company for a different product, IVC filters used to reduce blood clots in people who cannot take blood thinners. Campbell noted the IVC case in his case management order, stating there was an uptick in filings in the IVC MDL after proceedings began. 

The IVC cases against Bard are closed following confidential settlements. 

Bard’s Past Lawsuits 

These are not the first times Bard has been subjected to personal injury lawsuits over its medical devices. In 2014, Bard settled lawsuits regarding its defective pelvic mesh products, paying $21 million. In 2020, it settled more lawsuits for $60 million, this time for the marketing of its pelvic mesh products.

Since 2021, the company has faced an additional 11,000 lawsuits for its polypropylene hernia mesh products. The lawsuits claim the products caused infections, intestinal blockage, organ perforation and other injuries. These cases are ongoing.