An Illinois appeals court has refused to let medical device manufacturer Confluent escape a woman’s lawsuit claiming its blood clot filter broke apart and became lodged in her heart, finding the lower court has jurisdiction despite the company not selling or making the parts in the state.
The panel dismissed Confluent’s arguments for why Illinois should not be the venue for the trial, calling them “hyperbolic” and lacking a “meaningful distinction.” Pattie Harding is suing the company and others claiming an inferior vena cava, IVC, nitinol filter — which is supposed to deter pulmonary embolisms — is faulty.
The order affirms a Cook County, Illinois, trial court’s decision to deny Confluent Medical Technologies Inc.’s motion to dismiss the case in December 2020 on grounds it lacked jurisdiction.
Confluent told the appeals court it did not have any significant business ties to the state, and that its filter only found its way to Harding through the Cordis Corporation, another medical device company Harding is also suing in this case.
Confluent claims it manufactured the filters in California and Costa Rica using designs provided by Cordis; it only sold the component parts to Cordis and shipped them to Mexico. Confluent says it did not know the part would be heading to Illinois.
This argument didn’t fly in the lower court, which essentially identified Cordis as the distributor and Confluent as the manufacturer for the purposes of the trial, leaning on the 2013 state Supreme Court case Russell v. SNFA — which found an overseas helicopter-parts manufacturer could be held liable for its products even though it did not know they would end up in the state.
But Confluent argued the current lawsuit was different because the aircraft maker sold replacement parts while Confluent sells component parts. The panel rejected this argument.