JPML Declines to Consolidate Atrium ProLoop and ProLite Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Although consolidated pretrial proceedings have been established for hernia mesh lawsuits filed against several manufacturers in federal courts, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has rejected a request to centralize all Atrium ProLite and ProLoop lawsuits before one judge, indicating there are currently too few cases to justify possible disruptions to pre-trial schedules in early actions which have already been pending for about four years.
Atrium ProLoop and ProLite are types of polypropylene mesh that have been widely used for surgical hernia repairs. However, a number of lawsuits now allege the products were defectively designed by Atrium Medical, and that the manufacturer failed to adequately test the hernia mesh, which has resulted in high failure rates, frequent complications and revision surgeries among patients.
In December, a group of 15 plaintiffs filed a motion to establish an Atrium ProLoop and ProLite MDL (Multidistrict Litigation), which would transfer cases pending in U.S. District Courts nationwide to one judge for coordinated management to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the claims, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings and a waste of judicial resources.
Atrium Medical Corporation and Maquet Cardiovascular, LLC filed a response in January, urging the MDL panel to reject that proposal, indicating the hernia mesh litigation should proceed in various different U.S. District Courts without any formal coordination effort.
In an Order Denying Transfer (PDF) filed on April 5, the JPML agreed with Atrium’s position, concluding there are too few lawsuits filed to justify putting those which have already been in the legal system for several years on hold. The panel rejected arguments by plaintiffs that the number of Atrium mesh lawsuits is expected to increase significantly in the coming months and years.
“Here, this litigation has been ongoing since at least 2017, yet only eleven actions have been filed to date. One of those already has been tried to a defense verdict,” the JPML stated in its decision. “Given the relatively slow growth of this litigation, we are not persuaded that the number of ProLite or ProLoop cases filed in or removed to federal court will substantially increase.”
Such consolidation is common in complex medical device litigation, where a large number of claims have been presented by former recipients of the same medical device or implant, alleging similar injuries. While the JPML said consolidation could help prevent duplicative discovery and contradictory rulings, it pointed out two of the eleven cases are already in advanced stages and would be disrupted by consolidation.
The U.S. JPML has already established hernia mesh MDLs for claims involving a number of different polypropylene mesh products sold by different manufacturers in recent years, including Bard mesh lawsuits, Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits and Atrium C-Qur lawsuits.
Plaintiffs say each of the lawsuits over Atrium ProLite and ProLoop mesh raise nearly identical allegations, and will involve many common witnesses and evidence. However, unless the size and scope of the litigation increases further, each claim will proceed on an individual track, with informal coordination between the parties involved in the various claims.
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