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With more than 2,500 Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has rescheduled the first bellwether trial to begin on July 7, 2021, by which time the parties indicate they are hopeful the case will proceed before a jury “in-person.”
A claim filed by Carrie Barron was previously selected as the first in a series of “bellwether” trial, which was designed to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims over complications associated with the Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh, which featured a unique polypropylene patch design with an Omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) gel coating, which plaintiffs allege was defective and unreasonably dangerous.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed throughout the federal court system, the Atrium C-Qur litigation has been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire since December 2016, where Judge Landya McCafferty has been presiding over coordinate discovery and pretrial proceedings.
The first in a series of “bellwether” trials was previously scheduled to begin in May 2020, but has been delayed several times due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, the Court was expected to hold a virtual jury trial over Zoom or other video-conference technology starting in January 2021, but the Court announced weeks earlier that the trial date was continued and would be rescheduled on a future date.
In advance of a status conference which was to be held today, the parties submitted a joint agenda (PDF) late last week, proposing that the Barron trial begin on July 6, 2021, indicating that they are “optimistic” that the trial will proceed in-person. However, the parties stated that they will revisit the logistics of a remote trial if it becomes necessary.
In a text-only order issued on February 10, Judge McCafferty adopted the proposed new trial date and cancelled the planned status conference, indicating it was no longer necessary at this time, since issues outlined on the agenda had been resolved.
While the outcome of the Barron trial and other “bellwether” trials likely to be scheduled in the future will not be binding on other plaintiffs involved in the litigation, they will be closely watched by parties and may have a substantial impact on hernia mesh settlements that may be negotiated to avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to be remanded for trials nationwide in the coming years.
In addition to litigation over Atrium C-Qur patches, similar hernia mesh lawsuits are also being pursued over design defects associated with polyproylene products sold by other companies in recent years, including Bard, Ethicon, Covidien and others.