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Boston Scientific Mesh Trial Ends in Defense Verdict

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A Massachusetts jury has returned a defense verdict in the first of more than 20,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits filed against Boston Scientific. 

The trial involved a case brought by Diane Albright, who alleged that Boston Scientific Pinnacle mesh implanted transvaginally was defectively designed and caused her to suffer severe and painful injuries.

Following a month long trial in Middlesex County Superior Court, the jury found that Albright failed to establish that the Boston Scientific mesh was defective or that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of complications.

While the outcome of the trial is not binding on other cases, it may serve as a gauge for how juries could respond to similar evidence that will be offered in other cases. According to a report by Law360.com, pretrial rulings by the Massachusetts state court judge presiding over the case prevented the jury from hearing certain evidence related to the warnings and defective nature of the mesh, which plaintiffs are considering appealing.

The case was the first Boston Scientific mesh lawsuit to go before a jury, but a number of other trials are expected over the next year.

In Massachusetts state court, where roughly 1,700 cases are pending against Boston Scientific, the next trial is expected to begin on August 11.

The vast majority of all cases filed nationwide against Boston Scientific are currently pending in the federal court system, where more than 12,000 complaints filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country have been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia.

The first federal Boston Scientific mesh trial is currently scheduled to begin on November 3, involving a consolidation of 11 different lawsuits brought by women who received a Boston Scientific Obtryx sling for repair of stress urinary incontinence (SUI)

Earlier this year, Judge Goodwin ordered that a second wave of Boston Scientific bellwether cases in the MDL be prepared for early trial dates, identifying 200 lawsuits that will be “trial ready” by January 2015.

Vaginal Mesh Litigation

In addition to cases pending against Boston Scientific, tens of thousands of similar vaginal mesh lawsuits are pending nationwide against other manufacturers who sold similar products. Overall, more than 60,000 women have filed claims after experience complications with vaginal mesh or bladder sling products used to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or female stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

In the federal court system, Judge Goodwin is presiding over 7 different MDLs established for cases against different manufacturers. According to the latest case list (PDF) released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on July 15, the federal court is currently home to over  12,500 Bard Avaulta mesh cases, 18,501 Ethicon mesh lawsuits, 17,901 American Medical Systems (AMS) mesh lawsuits, 1,506 Coloplast mesh lawsuits, 213 Cook Medical mesh lawsuits and about 74 Neomedic mesh lawsuits.

In several of the MDLs, Judge Goodwin has established bellwether programs to prepare small groups of cases for early trial dates. While the outcomes of these cases are not binding on other plaintiffs, they are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of the cases and potentially facilitate vaginal mesh settlement agreements that may resolve large groups of cases.

The first federal vaginal mesh trial began in July 2013, involving a lawsuit filed against C.R. Bard involving their Avaulta mesh product. That case resulted in a $2 million damage award for Donna Cisson, including $1.5 million in punitive damages designed to punish the manufacturer for their actions surrounding the design and sale of the product.

Following that initial trial, Bard has agreed to settle at least two federal cases shortly before trial was scheduled to begin before Judge Goodwin. Earlier this week, a settlement of an additional 500 cases was announced for an undisclosed amount. A second wave of 200 cases involving Bard Avaulta mesh are also now being prepared for additional trial dates early next year.

Last month, Endo Health Solutions decided to settle AMS mesh lawsuits for an estimated $830 million, avoiding a series of bellwether trials set to begin over this summer.

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