Motion for New Trial in Bard Hernia Mesh Bellwether Claim Denied

Judge rules evidence presented by defendants did not prejudice the jury in the first Bard hernia mesh bellwether trial.

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Bard hernia mesh lawsuits has rejected a motion for a new trial in the first bellwether claim, as parties continue to prepare for the start of a second bellwether trial early next month.

There are currently more than 8,000 product liability lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard in the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that plaintiffs suffered painful and debilitating complications caused by design defects with various polyproylene mesh products sold in recent years.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the claims, the federal litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. in the Southern District of Ohio, where a series of “bellwether” cases were selected for early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

The first bellwether trial involved claims brought by plaintiff Steven Johns, involving problems with Bard Ventralight ST mesh, which ended in a defense verdict in September 2021. A second Bard hernia mesh bellwether trial is scheduled to being on January 10, 2022, involving claims brought by Antonio Milanesi, involving complications with a Bard Ventralex hernia patch.

While the outcome of these early trial dates has no binding effect on other claims, the cases are being closely watched and are expected to have a major impact on potential hernia mesh settlements Bard may pay to avoid thousands of individual cases going before juries nationwide.

In post trial motions filed, Johns asked Judge Sargus to overturn the verdict in the first bellwether trial, arguing that a new trial should be held due to Bard’s violation of evidentiary orders, by introducing information that adhesions can occur outside of hernia surgeries, which the defense presented as the views of all doctors.

In an order (PDF) issued on December 21, Judge Sargus denied the motion and found that nothing presented was a violation or particularly prejudicial to the jury, which is the benchmark for whether aa judge should reverse a jury’s verdict.

The upcoming second trial will be heard by a separate jury, involving allegations that design defects with the hernia mesh used during an umbilical hernia surgery resulted in the development of an infection and a small bowel fistula. The lawsuit indicates the mesh adhered to a loop of the small bowel, leading to erosion and the need for a small bowel resection, anastomosis, removal of the mesh and repair of the ventral hernia, leaving Milanesi with permanent and severe injuries.

Unless Bard is able to establish that it can consistently defend the safety of its products before juries or reaches agreements to settle hernia mesh cases following the bellwether trials, it is expected that Judge Sargus may begin remanding hundreds of individual cases to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates after bellwether cases are heard.

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