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As hundreds of additional Bard hernia mesh lawsuits continue to be filed each month, parties will have to wait a bit longer before the first federal bellwether trials begin, as the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation indicates the earliest a jury will be convened to hear evidence is September 2020, amid the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.
Bard currently faces more than 6,800 product liability lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, each involving plaintiffs who suffered painful and debilitating complications following hernia repair procedures where Bard’s Ventralex, Ventralight, Perfix, 3DMax and other patch designs were used. However, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is widely expected the size of the litigation will continue to grow.
According to recent court records, about 500 new cases are being filed each month throughout the federal court system, and the total number of Bard hernia mesh cases may near 10,000 by the end of the year.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the federal judiciary has consolidated the litigation before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, for coordinated discovery and a series of early trial dates designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims, as well as how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the lawsuits.
In January, Judge Sargus identified specific plaintiffs selected for the first Bard hernia mesh jury trials, which were expected to begin in May 2020, July 2020 and September 2020. However, as jury trials nationwide are being postponed, the Court issued orders in March which pushed back the start of the first two cases until July 2020 and September 2020.
According to a new pretrial order (PDF) issued on April 24, Judge Sargus announced the first trial will now not start until September 2020, but could be delayed further as both parties initially requested that the trials be delayed until 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Court will continue to monitor the situation closely and be in touch with the parties about the September 29, 2020 trial date, and may reconsider the decision to hold the Johns trial on that date if the situation does not improve,” Judge Sargus wrote about the first scheduled bellwether trial.
“The Court will also update the parties at the next status conference regarding dates for the Milanesi and Stinson trials,” referring to the second and third cases selected for the bellwether process.
On the same day, the Court sent out a notice (PDF) setting the next telephone conference for May 21.
While the outcomes of these early bellwether trial dates will not be binding on other Bard hernia patch cases, they are expected to have a substantial impact on any hernia mesh settlements that Bard may offer to avoid thousands of individual trials being set for trial nationwide.