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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal hernia mesh lawsuits involving products manufactured by C.R. Bard has approved the selection of 12 claims for a bellwether pool, which will be prepared for early trial dates in the litigation over design defects associated with a number of different products used in recent years.
There are currently more than 240 product liability lawsuits pending against Bard throughout the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that plaintiffs experienced painful complications that were caused by design defects associated with Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix, Bard Composix and other polypropylene products sold in recent years. However, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file cases in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that the litigation will involve thousands of lawsuits.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, all federal Bard hernia mesh claims have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, which will include a series of three “bellwether” trials that are expected to being next year to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the cases.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on March 22, Judge Sargus approved the selection of 12 cases that will be part of bellwether discovery pool, including six chosen by each side. Neither party opposed to the selections by the other side.
Following preliminary discovery into case-specific facts in each of the claims, the Court is expected to later narrow the pool down to six cases, from which three representative claims will be selected as the first to go before a jury in May, July and September 2020.
Each of the cases raise similar allegations that polypropylene mesh used in Bard hernia repair products was unreasonably defective and dangerous, creating a risk of painful and debilitating complications where the mesh may fail and requires individuals to undergo additional surgery to remove the patch from their body.
While the outcomes of these bellwether trials will not be binding on other claims, they may help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of cases, and facilitate hernia mesh settlements with Bard and other manufacturers, which would avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to be scheduled for trial over the coming years.
Similar consolidated pretrial proceedings have also been established for Atrium C-Qur lawsuits and Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits, which involve competing hernia repair products that have also been linked to a high rate of failure and problems. The first bellwether trial dates in each of these other MDLs are expected to begin in early 2020.
The parties are next scheduled to meet with the Court to review the status of the Bard hernia mesh claims on April 17, 2019.