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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Bard hernia mesh lawsuits indicates that the first bellwether trial will be ready to go before a jury in about 16 months, suggesting that trial dates will begin in mid-2020 to help drive settlement negotiations in hundreds of similar cases.
There are currently about 200 product liability lawsuits pending against C.R. Bard throughout the federal court system, involving complications associate 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 may include close to 10,000 cases.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that plaintiffs suffered painful and debilitating complications following hernia repair with Bard mesh, due to design defects that increase the risk of failure and revision surgery to remove the mesh from their body.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints filed in federal courts nationwide, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established consolidated pretrial proceedings for the Bard hernia mesh cases last month, centralizing cases filed nationwide before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, for coordinated discovery and management.
In a pretrial order (PDF) issued on October 12, Judge Sargus indicates that the Court plans to hold a series of early “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain testimony and evidence that is likely to be repeated throughout similar cases if the litigation is not resolved.
As part of the coordinated proceedings, the order indicates that each side will identify six potential bellwether cases for a discovery and trial pool, for a total of 12 claims that will go through case-specific discovery. The court will later cut that list in half.
Judge Sargus indicates that he anticipates the trial will begin in approximately 16 months, with each trial lasting about four weeks, and five week intervals between each trial.
The parties are scheduled to meet with again for a next status conference on November 16, which will involve discussions about the first Bard trial date, case management orders and the establishment of a master schedule.
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.
While the outcomes of these “test” 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.