Alloderm Hernia Patch Lawsuits to be Selected for Early Trial Dates in N.J.
As several hundred product liability lawsuits continue to move forward in New Jersey state court involving individuals who experienced problems from an Alloderm hernia patch, the parties involved in the litigation are expected to select a small group of cases next week to be prepared for potential bellwether trial that will begin in September 2015.
There are currently more than 330 Alloderm lawsuits pending in New Jersey state court, which have been consolidated for coordinated management as part of a Multi-County Litigation, or MCL, before Superior Court Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County.
All of the complaints involve individuals who suffered complications after receiving the AlloDerm Regenerative Tissue Matrix for hernia surgery or abdominal repair. AlloDerm is manufactured from human tissue harvested from cadavers, which is stripped of the original cells to ensure that recipients do not reject.
While Alloderm was originally introduced by LifeCell Corporation in the early 1990s as a skin graft product for use with burn victims during plastic surgery and for certain dental procedures, the lawsuits allege that the manufacturer promoted the patch for hernia surgery and abdominal repairs without adequately researching the application or providing warnings about the need for surgeons to stretch or thin it out before surgery.
The complaints all involve similar reports that individuals experienced complications after Alloderm hernia repair, where the patch began to stretch, sag or loosen once implanted. This has been linked to reports of severe abdominal pain, infection, inflammation, injury to nearby organs, adhesion failure, hernia recurrence and other problems.
Bellwether Trials for Alloderm Lawsuits
Last month, Judge Mayer issued a case management order (PDF) that outlines the process for preparing a small group of cases for early trial dates, which are designed to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be similar to what is introduced throughout the litigation.
Following the selection of 20 cases for a Bellwether Pool in December, including 10 cases selected by each side, the parties have been directed to further narrow the pool by February 18. Each side will choose four cases each to be eligible for the first bellwether trial, for a total of 8 cases. These claims will then go through case-specific discovery, including the exchange of documents, depositions and other fact discovery, which is to be completed by October 3, 2014.
This pool of 8 bellwether Alloderm cases is expected to be further narrowed to a total of four cases by October 17, 2014. Those cases will then go through general causation discovery, including the exchange of expert reports, depositions of expert witnesses and challenges to the admissibility of expert opinions.
The first AlloDerm trial is currently scheduled to begin on Monday, September 28, 2015. Such bellwether trials are common in complex medical device litigation, where a large number of cases have been filed against a manufacturer involving similar injuries or factual allegations. The preparation and outcome of such early trial dates may help facilitate further negotiations to reach Alloderm settlements over surgical complications experienced by hundreds of patients.
The next case management conference in the New Jersey MCL is currently scheduled for February 26, 2014.
PhilOctober 7, 2015 at 6:02 am
Complications from AlloDerm include simple inflammation pain to severe side effects like hernia recurring. malfunction of organs.
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