The California federal judge presiding over a product liability trial against C.R. Bard over alleged risks associated with its clot-stopping vein filter excused a jury after a defense witness who was expected to testify tested positive for COVID-19.
In light of the diagnosis, the judge excused the panel for the day, and the legal teams then discussed how to proceed “post-COVID exposure,” with the plan to resume the next day.
The trial delay comes more than a week into plaintiff Laloli’s in-person negligence and product liability trial against the New Jersey-based C.R. Bard and its Tempe, Arizona, division, X Bard Peripheral Vascular Inc.
The trial kicked off Aug. 4 with Laloli’s counsel telling jurors that after Bard’s G2x vein filter was implanted in his client, the filter broke, sending metal shards into his lungs and creating “a ticking time bomb in his body.” But the company’s counsel countered that the man knew of the filter’s risks and chose to take them in order to prevent a life-threatening blood clot.
The case is one of multiple lawsuits that have headed to trial this summer as courts across the country have faced a growing backlog of litigation after the coronavirus pandemic forced courthouses to close their doors in March 2020.
Once COVID-19 vaccines became more widely available in the spring, federal judges in California’s Northern District began greenlighting trials, and each has taken a slightly different approach to courtroom safety protocols and public access, leading to a patchwork of mask and social distancing rules.
Alameda County, where the Oakland federal courthouse is located, and the San Francisco Bay Area at large are experiencing a sharp rise in the number of new daily coronavirus cases, which are reaching highs not seen since February.