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Jury Returns Defense Verdict in First Bard Hernia Mesh Bellwether Trial

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A federal jury in Ohio returned a defense verdict this week in favor of C.R. Bard and Davol, Inc. in the first federal “bellwether” trial involving complications with certain hernia mesh products, finding that the companies were not liable for complications a Utah man experienced after receiving a Bard Ventralight ST mesh.

With more than 8,000 similar hernia mesh lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system over problems with various different Bard polypropylene products sold in recent years, the trial was closely watched as a “bellwether” for how juries may respond to similar evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims. However, the verdict has no binding effect on other plaintiffs, and Bard will continue to face a series of upcoming trials unless hernia mesh settlements are reached to resolve large numbers of cases.

The verdict comes in a case brought by Steven Johns, which was selected as the first in a series of early trial dates in the federal court system, where all Bard hernia mesh claims are centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. in the Southern District of Ohio, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Johns experienced adhesions and other health problems after a Bard Ventralight ST mesh was implanted during a hernia repair, alleging that the complications were caused by a defective and unreasonably dangerous design, resulting in the need for additional surgery to remove the patch from his body,

Following a month-long trial, the jury deliberated for only three hours before reaching a verdict (PDF) on Thursday, finding that the plaintiff did not meet the necessary burden of proof to establish negligence or strict liability claims for failure to warn or design defects.

Following the conclusion of this hernia mesh trial, Judge Sargus has scheduled a second bellwether trial to begin on January 10, 2022, involving complications with a Bard Ventralex patch. The Court indicates that it will outline specific deadlines in advance of that trial over the coming weeks.

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, Judge Sargus may begin remanding hundreds of individual cases to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the coming year.

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