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With a growing number of Atrium CQur lawsuits continuing to be filed throughout the federal court system over problems with the controversial hernia patch, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to centralize all claims before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
There are currently at least 13 complaints pending against Atrium Medical in seven different U.S. District Courts, each involving individuals who experienced complications and allergic reactions following hernia repair with the C-Qur mesh. However, as hernia patch lawyers continue to investigate and file additional cases in the coming weeks and months, it is expected that several hundred lawsuits will eventually be brought nationwide.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in the cases, a group of plaintiffs filed a request to consolidated the Atrium C-Qur hernia patch lawsuits before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. The centralized management is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.
Following oral arguments presented earlier this month, the U.S. JPML issued a order (PDF) on December 8, indicating that all pending and future cases will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty in the District of New Hampshire for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
“All the actions share common factual questions arising out of allegations that defects in defendants’ C-Qure mesh products incide an allergic or inflammatory response that causes severe complications,” wrote Judge Sarah S. Vance, chair of the U.S. JPML. “All the actions involve factual questions relating to whether C-Qur mesh was defectively designed or manufactured, whether defendants knew or should have known of the alleged propensity of C-Qur mesh to result in an allergic or inflammatory response, and whether defendants provied adequate instructions and warnings with the mesh.”
Pronounced “secure”, the Atrium CQur 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.
As additional Atrium CQur cases are filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, they will be transferred to Judge McCafferty for coordinated handling during discovery and a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Atrium CQur 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.