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According to an update provided at a recent status conference, there are now more than 1,720 Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the recently established federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), and the parties indicate that there are about 80 to 100 new cases being filed each week.
Each of the claims involve 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 by C.R. Bard 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 more than ten thousand claims.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the federal Bard hernia mesh litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. Known as an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, the process is designed to avoid conflicting rulings from different courts, minimize duplicative discovery and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the judicial system.
In a pretrial order (PDF) issued on April 19, Judge Sargus memorialized a number of updates provided by attorneys for plaintiffs and the manufacturer, including an update on the number of cases now included in the litigation.
The parties also informed the court that early discovery in the cases is continuing, with plaintiffs attorneys set to take at least 19 depositions for company witnesses, and defense attorneys updating the court on the status of document production.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, Judge Sargus has previously established a plan to hold a series of three “bellwether” trials, which 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.
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.