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To better understand the scientific and medical issues likely to come up in hundreds of hernia mesh lawsuits filed over problems with the Atrium C-Qur patch, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation will hold a “Science Day” later this month, at which time the parties will make non-adversarial presentations that are designed to provide background and education for the Court.
There are a growing number of Atrium C-Qur lawsuits pending in the federal court system, each raising similar allegations that the surgical mesh used during hernia repair procedures was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous, causing individuals to experience painful and debilitating complications, often resulting in the need for complex surgery to remove the device.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the cases, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated pretrial proceedings for all Atrium C-Qur cases in December 2016, centralizing all 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.
According to a docket entry posted in federal MDL (multidistrict litigation) on October 5, a “Science Day” will be held on October 27, before Judge McCafferty and New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Charles Temple, who is presiding over a number of similar cases in the state court system.
While specifics for the hearing were not outlined, it is common for Courts to schedule such scientific presentations in complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims have been brought alleging that individuals suffered similar injuries or medical issues as a result of the same product. Such “Science Days” are designed to allow the parties to explain issues that will come up in a case in a non-adversarial setting, which are typically not on the record or subject to cross-examination.
Atrium C-Qur is a new relatively new type of hernia repair mesh, which was introduced in 2006, and has been widely used over the past decade. The polypropylene patch 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 hernia mesh lawyers continue to investigate and file claims for individuals who have experienced problems following surgical procedures where the Atrium C-Qur may have been used, the size and scope of the litigation is expected to continue to increase over the next year.
During the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge McCafferty, it is expected that a bellwether” program will be established, where a small group of representative cases will be prepared for early trial to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
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.