Bloomberg News is reporting that “three people familiar with the accord” have let it slip that Coloplast mesh cases will soon settle for $16 million. Although there’s been no official confirmation, the reports come after the company agreed in January to resolve hundreds of lawsuits filed over Coloplast’s mesh products. Back in December, we reported that all federally-filed Coloplast cases had been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation in August 2012 (What Will 2014 Bring For Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits?) and, in line with other mesh lawsuits filed against medical device manufacturers, were being heard in West Virginia under Judge Goodwin.
The sources quoted by Bloomberg – anonymous officials from Coloplast – have indicated that the average payment for claimants under the new settlement will be about $40,000.
According to the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, as of February 29, 2014, Coloplast Corp. is facing 1,190 lawsuits for its allegedly defective mesh devices. The company faces claims that its vaginal mesh products can cause pelvic pain, mesh erosion, infection, painful sexual intercourse and bleeding, among other injuries. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against mesh manufacturers, including C. R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., Ethicon, Inc., Cook Medical, Inc. and Neomedic, since the FDA issued a warning in 2011 that transvaginal mesh could cause serious side effects.
The sources quoted by Bloomberg – anonymous officials from Coloplast – have indicated that the average payment for claimants under the new settlement will be about $40,000. There’s been no official comment from Coloplast about whether a fresh settlement deal has been reached, though the company has decided not to seek a blanket settlement (ending all the cases filed against it at one time), according to reports. Instead, groups of women whose cases are being handled by the same lawyers will be addressed together.
According to Bloomberg, Coloplast’s lawyers have already settled with five groups of plaintiffs, with one lawyers’ inventory of cases described by Judge Goodwin as “fairly large.” Lane Varney, a lawyer for Coloplast, is also recorded in the court transcript as saying: “We’d like to address the entire inventory so that we can buy our peace and move on down the road.”
So, Coloplast looks set to wrap up the litigation, though it will be some time before the final price tag of all the mesh cases can be calculated. You can bet it will be pretty high, whatever happens. The trend of mesh lawsuits has been undeniably in the plaintiffs’ favor in recent years, with several companies losing key bellwether trials and beginning to settle cases. Just last month, Endo announced it was putting $520 million into a fund to resolve litigation against it, while Johnson & Johnson has been accused of destroying, or failing to preserve, several key documents related to its vaginal mesh.
Will Coloplast’s potential settlement have any impact on those company’s trials? It’s hard to say, but in the long-running fight between women who were injured by vaginal meshes and the companies who made the devices, every little bit helps.