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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh lawsuits has approved streamlined procedures for the filing of new cases, involving a “Short Form Complaint” that outlines the allegations from a “Master Complaint” that are being adopted by each plaintiff.
In December 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Atrium C-Qur cases brought throughout the federal court system, centralizing the claims 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, causing plaintiffs to suffer painful and debilitating complications, such as adhesions, allergic reactions, infections or other problems, which often result in the need for additional surgery to remove the hernia patch months or even years after it was implanted.
The Atrium C-Qur patch was introduced in 2006, and has been widely used during hernia repair surgery 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.
In a procedural order (PDF) issued on June 12, Judge McCafferty approved a Master Complaint, which outlines all of the various allegations presented in the litigation, and directed each plaintiff with a case already pending to file a Short Form complaint within 60 days.
For new Atrium C-Qur lawsuits, Judge McCafferty indicates that plaintiffs can initiate their case by filing the abbreviated form in the District of New Hampshire, which outlines specific information about the individual claim, as well as the counts from the Master Complaint that will be incorporated in their lawsuit.
While there are currently only a few dozen complaints centralized before Judge McCafferty as part of the MDL, or multidistrict litigation, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to investigate and file claims for individuals who have experienced problems following surgery where Atrium C-Qur was used, the size of the litigation is expected to rapidly grow over the coming months and years.
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. The use of a Master Complaint and Short Form Complaints will assist the parties and Court in selecting representative cases for eventual bellwether trials.
While the outcomes of these early trial dates 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.