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Lawsuits Over Hernia Mesh Problems Mounting, As MDL Panel Considers Centralizing Bard Cases

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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments this week about whether to consolidate and centralize all hernia mesh lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard and its Davol subsidiary, which could become the latest in a number of federal multidistrict litigations (MDLs) established for the growing number of claims filed by individuals nationwide who have suffered painful problems due to complications with different hernia mesh products. 

In addition to cases filed against Bard, there are currently more than 1,250 Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits and 470 Atrium C-Qur mesh lawsuits pending in the federal court system, which have each been centralized for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. The Ethicon cases are currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia, and the Atrium cases are pending in the District of New Hampshire.

The U.S. JPML will hear oral arguments on Thursday about whether to establish similar centralized proceedings for all Bard hernia mesh cases, which are currently pending in at least 21 different U.S. District Courts. The complaints involve problems with Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix, Bard Composix and other polypropylene hernia mesh products sold in recent years.

In a response (PDF) filed in support of the motion last week, attorneys representing plaintiffs in the litigation indicate that the number of cases filed against Bard “will likely increase to the thousands.”

Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the design of different polypropylene hernia mesh products were unreasonably dangerous and defective, making them prone to fail and result in the need for risky revision surgery within a few years after the original hernia repair.

In May, C.R. Bard and it’s Davol subsidiary filed a response indicating that they support centralization of the hernia mesh cases, so long as any MDL includes all lawsuits over their polypropylene mesh products, including the previously¬†recalled Kugel hernia patch, which plaintiffs argued should be excluded from this new MDL.

The U.S. JPML is scheduled to hear oral arguments on July 26, during a hearing at the Santiago E. Campos United States Courthouse in Sante Fe, New Mexico. The panel will also determine what is the most appropriate venue for the cases.

As part of any MDL, the judge appointed to preside over the proceedings will coordinate discovery and likely schedule a series of “bellwether” trials, which are designed to gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout large numbers of cases. However, if hernia mesh settlements or another resolution is not reached following the coordinated MDL proceedings, each case would ultimately be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date in the future.

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