Let’s get one thing straight – medical device lawsuits take time. They’re often measured in months and years. In complicated cases with a large number of plaintiffs and serious allegations on the table, the process is slow and thorough.
What’s next for mesh lawsuits?
The six transvaginal mesh lawsuits currently being heard in West Virginia check all the boxes: large companies, multiple plaintiffs, serious injuries, and serious settlement money being sought. In short, the suits are taking a long time. (You can read about the cases’ current status in our recent post Transvaginal Mesh Multidistrict Litigation Lawsuits: Where Are They Now?)
So, as 2014 comes into view, what’s next for mesh lawsuits?
Judge Joseph Goodwin, currently overseeing the consolidated mesh cases, has pushed back Bard’s latest bellwether trial from December 3 to January 10, 2014. The suit was filed by a woman implanted with Bard’s Avaulta mesh and is one of four bellwether trials chosen to represent the thousands of suits already filed. The first two trials ended in settlements, while the third fell flat following a voluntary dismissal by the plaintiff. With the latest delay, all eyes will now turn to the New Year to see how Bard fares in court.
After problems finding suitable bellwether cases – Judge Goodwin had harsh words lawyers on both sides after they failed to present acceptable cases – the entire bellwether process has been delayed through much of 2013. Slowly, though, things have started progressing, and 2014 will bring at least two bellwether trials on March 14 and July 14.
Johnson & Johnson have been arguing for a while that the way Ethicon’s mesh was brought onto the market was perfectly legal. However, the FDA has raised concerns about the timing of the product’s approval and the date it went on sale. Lawsuits followed, and though June 2012 saw Gynecare vaginal mesh withdrawn from sale, 2014 should see the device’s first bellwether trials. February 10, 2014 is the date to watch, according to court documents released earlier this month. Jury instructions are due from both parties by January 31, 2014.
Compared to the complicated trials of other mesh manufacturers, AMS’ MDL has been downright easy to follow. We’ve known for a while that the first bellwether trial is scheduled for April 7, 2014, and there’s currently no indication that this will change.
Coloplast’s multidistrict litigation was consolidated in August 2012, with more than 1,100 suits filed as of December 16, 2013. This MDL is in its early stages, and no bellwether dates have been set. That doesn’t mean 2014 will be quiet, though; with other mesh manufacturers due to face the music and the number of lawsuits sure to rise, Coloplast Corp will be watching closely to see how juries rule. It’s possible their own bellwether trials could begin in 2014.
The baby of the group - with only 136 lawsuits filed as of December 16 2013 - Cook Medical is nonetheless facing serious accusations over its vaginal mesh device. As with Coloplast, consolidation only came in summer 2013, and no bellwether trials have been yet been announced.
Stay tuned for developments coming in 2014.