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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh cases has approved the direct filing of new lawsuits directly into the multidistrict litigation (MDL), which will streamline the process for bringing new product liability claims by individuals nationwide who suffered painful and debilitating complications following hernia repair surgery.
In December 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all Atrium C-Qur lawsuits pending in the federal court system, centralizing the cases before U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty in the District of New Hampshire to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
Each of the claims raise similar allegations, maintaining that the Atrium C-Qur mesh was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous for use during hernia repair surgery, posing a risk of painful and debilitating complications, such as adhesions, allergic reactions, infections or other problems resulting in the need for removal of the patch months or even years later.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on February 10, Judge McCafferty indicates that future Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh cases may now be directly filed into the MDL federal court in New Hampshire, which will avoid delays associated with transferring claims from different U.S. District Courts nationwide and promote judicial efficiency.
The Atrium C-Qur patch was introduced for hernia repair surgery in 2006, and it has been used during procedures nationwide over the past decade. The polypropylene mesh has an Omega-3 gel coating, which was designed to reduce scar tissue formation while promoting fixation of the mesh to the abdominal wall. However, plaintiffs allege that this coating actually causes severe complications from Atrium CQur mesh, inciting an inflammatory response that promotes bowel adhesion, impedes proper abdominal wall fixation and causes other problems following hernia repair.
While there are currently only about two dozen cases pending over problems with Atrium C-Qur, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits will be added to the MDL.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge McCafferty will establish a “bellwether” trial plan, which will select a small group of representative cases for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh settlements or another resolution is not reached following the MDL proceedings, each individual case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.