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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Atrium C-Qur lawsuits has approved new procedures for the direct filing of cases into the multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New Hampshire, which has been established to coordinate discovery and pretrial proceedings in a growing number of claims filed by individuals who experienced problems with the hernia mesh.
Atrium currently faces more than 1,000 hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that the C-Qur mesh (pronounsed “secure”) was defective and unreasonably dangerous, increasing the risk of complications following hernia repair, often resulting in the need for additional surgery to remove or replace the patch.
The Atrium C-Qur mesh was introduced in March 2006, and was widely used by surgeons throughout the U.S., featuring a unique design involving polypropylene mesh with an Omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) gel coating. While this was designed to reduce scar tissue formation and promote fixation of the mesh to the abdominal wall, the C-Qur patch has been linked to a large number of reported problems, including inflammatory responses, bowel adhesions and other painful complications.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh cases in December 2016, centralizing complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide in New Hampshire, where U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty is coordinating discovery, pretrial rulings and overseeing a “bellwether” process for a group of representative claims that will be the first to go before juries.
To avoid the delay associated with transferring cases from different federal district courts, Judge McCafferty issued a case management order (PDF) on February 19, outlining the process for the direct filing of future cases directly into the Atrium C-Qur MDL.
In addition, an order (PDF) issued on February 15 granted an extension requested by parties in the litigation, giving them until April 1, 2019 to select the group of cases for the first bellwether trials, which will be used to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
While the outcomes of these “bellwether” trials will not be binding on other claims, the process is designed to facilitate potential hernia mesh settlements that may be necessary to avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials in various U.S. District Courts nationwide following the coordinated MDL proceedings.