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With more than 8,000 Bard hernia mesh lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system and parties preparing for a first bellwether trial set to begin in April, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation indicates a second trial will likely begin in late Summer 2021, involving a complaint over problems with a Bard Ventralex patch.
The product liability lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard each involve similar claims plaintiffs suffered painful and debilitating complications due to defective polypropylene mesh sold in recent years. However, a variety of different hernia repair products are involved in the litigation, including Bard Ventralight, Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix, Bard 3DMax and other mesh systems which each feature similar designs.
Plaintiffs allege Bard hernia mesh products used in recent years were each unreasonably dangerous and defective, resulting in 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 litigation, the federal cases are all centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, 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.
Following several delays due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the first trial, involving claims brought by Steven Johns, is tentatively scheduled to begin on April 19, 2021. That trial will involve complications from Bard Ventralight ST mesh, which featured a biosorbable coating called Sepra Technology (“ST”), which covered the polypropylene mesh material.
In a case management order (PDF) issued on December 30, Judge Sargus indicated a second bellwether trial, involving claims brought by Antonio Milanesi, will be scheduled for a date in late Summer 2021.
That lawsuit involves complications with a Bard Ventralex hernia patch, which failed and required additional surgery to remove the product. According to allegations raised in the complaint (PDF) filed in 2018, Milanesi’s surgeons noted that a loop of small bowel was densely adhered to the mesh, which had eroded into an abscess cavity. As a result of the mesh failure, Milanesi had to undergo additional surgical procedures and indicates that he was left with permanent injuries, similar to those presented throughout other claims in the litigation.
While the outcomes of the Johns and Milanesi trials will not be binding on plaintiffs involved in other Bard hernia mesh lawsuits, they will be closely watched by lawyers involved in the litigation and are expected to have a substantial impact on any hernia patch settlements Bard may offer to avoid the need for thousands of individual cases to be set for jury trials nationwide in the coming years.
The parties met with Judge Sargus for a case management conference on Tuesday, and the next regular meeting before the start of the trials is set for February 2, 2021 at 1:30pm, which will be held virtually through GoToMeeting.