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Coloplast Pelvic Mesh Lawsuit Consolidation Sought in W.V. MDL

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A motion has been filed to create a sixth transvaginal mesh MDL, involving lawsuits over Coloplast pelvic mesh, and a panel of federal judges will meet later this month to consider whether the cases should be consolidated for pretrial proceedings and centralized before the same judge in West Virginia who is presiding over cases involving similar products sold by other manufacturers.

There are currently four different MDLs (multidistrict litigations) centralized before Chief District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, involving lawsuits over transvaginal mesh products sold by C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems (AMS), Boston Scientific and Ethicon.

A fifth MDL, which was established in 2004 for lawsuits involving Mentor ObTape, is centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. However, many of the Mentor ObTape lawsuits have already settled and the litigation is at a very advanced stage.

All of the complaints involve similar allegations that pelvic mesh products sold by the companies for use during transvaginal surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or female stress urinary incontinence (SUI) caused women to suffer serious complications, such as pelvic pain, infection and erosion of the mesh through the vagina.

On May 9, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to expand the scope of the Mentor ObTape MDL to include certain pelvic mesh products sold by Coloplast. Mentor Corp. is also a defendant in many of the complaints involving Coloplast mesh products, since they were originally developed by Mentor and then sold to Coloplast in 2006 with all of its other surgical, urological and healthcare-related business.

Although plaintiffs proposed that the Coloplast mesh cases should be added to the existing Mentor MDL, Coloplast has opposed that request, arguing that the MDL is already “very mature” and that the proceedings currently only involve one product, the ObTape, which only involves Mentor Corp. Therefore, the company argued that the litigation does not involve questions or facts that are common to all cases and that a separate MDL should be established for Coloplast pelvic mesh lawsuits.

In a separate motion (PDF) filed early last month, Coloplast requested that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation establish a fifth MDL before Judge Goodwin for all lawsuits over their pelvic mesh products, including the Aris Transobturator Sling and the Novasilk sling.

There are currently at least 13 product liability lawsuits over Coloplast pelvic mesh products, involving 24 plaintiffs. The cases are currently pending in at least eight federal district courts, and the manufacturer is requesting that the lawsuits be coordinated during pretrial proceedings to reduce duplicative discovery, eliminate contradictory rulings from different federal district judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.

Coloplast argues that the West Virginia federal court is more appropriate than the Georgia federal court because seven Coloplast vaginal mesh lawsuits are already filed there and Judge Goodwin is already coordinating multiple MDLs involving different manufacturers.

The MDL panel is scheduled meet in Cleveland on July 26, at which time oral arguments on the proposed Coloplast mesh MDL have been scheduled.

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