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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system has re-scheduled the first bellwether jury trial to begin on April 19, 2021, following additional delays associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
C.R. Bard currently faces more than 8,000 product liability claims brought throughout the federal court system, each involving similar claims that plaintiffs suffered painful and debilitating complications due to defective polypropylene mesh products sold in recent years, including Bard Ventralight, Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix, Bard 3DMax and other similar mesh systems.
Plaintiffs allege that design problems with polypropylene mesh caused them to experience severe abdominal pain, infections, adhesions, erosion and other complications that often result in the need for additional surgery to remove the failed hernia patch.
Given common questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, the federal litigation has been centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio for the past few years, where the parties have engaged in coordinated discovery in preparation for a series of early trial dates, which are intended to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the claims.
While trials were originally expected to begin in May 2020, after the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the United States, the start of that first bellwether case was postponed until September 29, 2020 and then delayed again until January 2021. However, following a recent status conference, the start of the first Bard hernia mesh jury trial has been delayed by another three months.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on November 23, Judge Sargus indicates that trial involving claims brought by Steven Johns has been tentatively rescheduled to begin on Monday, April 19, 2021, with two final pretrial conferences slated for March 24 and April 1.
According to allegations raised in the case, Johns indicates that he experienced problems with Bard Ventralight ST mesh, which is a type of polypropylene patch involved in a large number of other claims pending in the litigation and the case will be closely watched by parties nationwide who are pursuing similar claims.
Given the importance of beginning the bellwether trials, and since the COVID-19 pandemic will likely still have a major impact on the U.S. judicial system in April, Judge Sargus is urging the parties to use technology where possible to reduce exposure risks.
“The Court strongly encourages the parties to utilize the electronic courtroom technology for presentation of evidence,” he wrote. “The parties shall report to the Court, by joint submission, on or before the date of the first pretrial conference, their intent to use the technology.”
While the outcomes of the Johns trial will not be binding on other claims, it may have a substantial impact on any Bard hernia patch settlements that the manufacturer may offer to avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for jury trials nationwide in the coming years.