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Bloomberg News reports that C.R. Bard has agreed to pay $21 million to settle more than 500 vaginal mesh lawsuits. However, the medical device manufacturer continues to face nearly 10,000 more claims brought by women who allege they suffered painful and debilitating complications from the surgical mesh implants used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
Bard is one of several companies facing vaginal mesh and bladder sling lawsuits in courts nationwide, which involve more than 70,000 women throughout the United States who report experiencing problems when the mesh eroded through the vagina, caused infection or other severe problems, often resulting in the need for surgical removal of the mesh.
As hundreds of Bard mesh lawsuits are being prepared for early trial dates in the federal court system, a Bloomberg News report indicates that individuals familiar with the litigation say the company is willing to pay an average of more than $43,000 per claim to settle complaints.
The Bard mesh settlement was first noted in a regulatory filing with the SEC in July, but details about the terms of the agreement were not released. However, even after the report of this agreement, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation expressed frustration with the lack of progress being made to resolve the cases, indicating that he plans to speed up the vaginal mesh trial schedule and prepare continuing waves of cases for expedited trial dates throughout the country.
Vaginal Mesh Settlements and Trials
Most of those are Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuits which have been centralized before U. S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia, where 9,745 cases are consolidated as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
In addition to cases against Bard, Judge Goodwin is also presiding over six other federal MDLs established for similar complaints filed against other manufacturers of transvaginal mesh and bladder sling products, including 13,853 Boston Scientific mesh lawsuits, 21,429 Ethicon mesh lawsuits, 18,784 American Medical Systems (AMS) mesh lawsuits, 1,682 Coloplast mesh lawsuits, 255 Cook Medical mesh lawsuits and 68 Neomedic mesh lawsuits.
All of the complaints involve similar allegations, indicating that the manufacturers designed and sold defective and unreasonably dangerous products, failing to adequately test the design or warn about the risk of vaginal mesh complications
Several early trial dates have already been held in courts throughout the country. While the manufacturers have had some success defending the lawsuits in individual trials, at least a half-dozen trials have resulted in multi-million dollar damage awards for plaintiffs, including several where juries added punitive damages designed to punish the manufacturers.
Known as “bellwether cases”, these trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely be repeated throughout the litigation. While the outcomes of the bellwether trials are not binding on other cases, they are designed to facilitate potential vaginal mesh settlement agreements that will avoid the need for thousands of trials to be scheduled in courts nationwide.
While Bard has reached some individual settlement agreements as mesh lawsuit came up for trial, the reported agreement to resolve 500 cases appears to be the first reached with individual attorneys to resolve their entire inventory of claims.
Endo International is the only manufacturer who has reached an agreement to settle nearly all of the cases it faces, reporting on September 30 that it has reached AMS mesh settlements that are expected to cost about $1.6 billion to resolve the litigation facing their subsidiary.
If Bard and other vaginal mesh manufacturers fail to reach more large scale settlements by the end of this year, it is expected that Judge Goodwin will begin remanding hundreds of cases back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for trials to be scheduled throughout 2015.