Manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products continue to face allegations that their devices are defective and can cause serious harm to women. The number of lawsuits filed on behalf of injured patients is quickly approaching 34,000 and several manufacturers have seen their cases consolidated into multidistrict litigations (MDLs). (An MDL allows a single judge to oversee a large number of similar cases, in a process that saves time and money and frees up the court system to handle other lawsuits. Unlike a class action, plaintiffs in an MDL retain their own suit and attorney, as well as the right to an individual monetary award.) All six transvaginal mesh MDLs are currently being overseen by Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia.
The number of lawsuits filed on behalf of injured patients is quickly approaching 34,000.
With such a large number of lawsuits and so many companies involved, it can be difficult to keep track of the litigation – but ClassAction.org is here to help.
In August, the first Bard bellwether trial (in which a case from the MDL is sent to trial to serve as a potential indicator of future rulings) ended with the jury awarding a $2 million verdict (a $250,000 compensatory damage award, with an additional $1.75 million in punitive damages). Since then, two further bellwether trials have ended in a settlement and a voluntary dismissal by the plaintiffs, respectively. The fourth trial will begin on December 3 after being delayed by a month.
MDL No. 2187 | In Re C. R. Bard, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation court updates can be found here.
In August 2013, counsel for both the plaintiffs and the defendant selected bellwether cases from the thousands of lawsuits already filed. Judge Joseph Goodwin, however, rejected the attorneys’ selections, finding them unsuitable, and instructed both sides to submit up to eight possible replacement cases. Judge Goodwin also laid out specific criteria to be met when selecting the bellwether trials. The preliminary start date for the first two bellwether trials is March 20, 2014 and July 14, 2014, respectively.
MDL No. 2326 | In Re Boston Scientific Corp. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation court updates can be found here.
In June 2012, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon announced it would cease all marketing, production and sales of four mesh products that had prompted more than 15,000 complaints to the FDA. At this time, around 600 lawsuits had been filed against the company over its vaginal mesh implants. The FDA announced that Johnson and Johnson had allegedly sold the mesh devices for three years before they were approved. The Gynecare Prolift vaginal implant was allegedly sold in March 2005, but did not actually receive approval until May 2008. The company utilized the 510(k) process, in which medical devices can be released without approval if they are substantially similar to products already on the market. The FDA said it disagreed that the product was similar enough to its predicate device, concluding that marketing and sale of the product began “without appropriate” clearance.
Bellwether trials are due to begin in early 2014.
MDL No. 2327 | In Re Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation updates can be found here.
More than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against American Medical Systems alleging that the company was negligent in the design and sale of its mesh product. In June 2013, Endo Health Solutions, AMS’ parent company, announced that it had agreed to pay $54.4 million to settle a number of cases, but intended to defend itself in ongoing lawsuits. A status conference was held November 7, and bellwether trials are set for April 7 and May 5, 2014.
MDL No. 2325 | In Re American Medical Systems, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation court updates can be found here.
Lawsuits filed over Coloplast Corp.’s allegedly defective mesh were consolidated in August 2012, although no bellwether trial dates have been set. At the time of the consolidation at least 24 lawsuits were filed in federal courts. Coloplast, a Danish company, isn’t as well known as companies such as Johnson & Johnson, but accusations that its mesh is defectively designed and can causes serious harm to women implanted are significantly similar to claims made against other mesh manufacturers.
MDL No. 2387 | In Re Coloplast Corp. Pelvic Support Systems Products Liability Litigation court updates can be found here.
In June, thirteen lawsuits alleging Cook Medical’s vaginal mesh device is defective were consolidated into an MDL. The company opposed the transfer, arguing that the accusations were baseless and that consolidation would only encourage other plaintiffs to join the litigation; however, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the question of whether the claims have merit would be best decided by the courts. No bellwether trials have been selected to date.
MDL No. 2440 | In Re Cook Medical, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation court updates can be found here.
Have you experienced problems with transvaginal mesh? Are you involved in any of the lawsuits mentioned? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to check back for further updates.
All MDL case numbers are taken from the November 18, 2013 ‘Pending MDLs’ release from the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation