Boston Scientific Obtryx Sling Trial Ends in $18.5M Jury Award for Four Women

For the second time this month, a federal jury has ordered Boston Scientific to pay millions in compensation to women who suffered severe and painful complications with bladder sling or transvaginal mesh products sold by the company in recent years for repair of stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. 

Following an 18-day trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, where more than 70,000 similar product liability lawsuits are filed against several different medical device manufacturers, four women were awarded $18.5 million in a Boston Scientific Obtryx sling bellwether trial.

The jury awarded about $3.6 million in compensatory damages to each of the plaintiffs women, as well as another $1 million each in punitive damages, which are designed to punish Boston Scientific for gross negligence in the design and sale of the product without warning about the risk of complications where the mesh may erode through the vagina, cause infections or other injuries.

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Vaginal Mesh Lawsuits

Complications from transvaginal mesh may cause severe injuries.

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The trial was one of two Boston Scientific bellwether trials that began on November 3, with another combined trial involving four women who experienced complications with Boston Scientific Pinnacle mesh ending in a $26.7 million verdict last week in Florida.

Prior to the start of the two federal cases, Boston Scientific was hit in Texas state court with a $73.4 million jury award following the trial of one claim involving the Obtryx mesh, including $50 million in punitive damages. That verdict was subsequently reduced to $34 million under Texas state caps on punitive damages.

These bellwether trials were scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout other claims. While the outcomes are not binding on other lawsuits, the large verdicts may influence any potential Boston Scientific mesh settlement agreements that may be reached to avoid thousands of additional trials being scheduled throughout the country.

Transvaginal Mesh Litigation

Product liability lawsuits over transvaginal mesh have been filed against different manufacturers throughout the U.S. in recent years, with most of the litigation currently centralized in the federal court system, where seven different MDLs (Multidistrict Litigation) have established before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia.

According to the latest case list (PDF) provided by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on November 17, there currently about 14,000 Boston Scientific mesh lawsuits, 9,800 Bard Avaulta mesh cases, 21,700 Ethicon mesh lawsuits, 18,900 American Medical Systems (AMS) mesh lawsuits, 1,700 Coloplast mesh lawsuits, 259 Cook Medical mesh lawsuits and 72 Neomedic mesh lawsuits.

All of the complaints involving nearly identical allegations that women experienced severe and debilitating problems after receiving products used to repair pelvic organ prolapse or female stress urinary incontinence, alleging that the manufacturers failed to adequately research the design or warn women or the medical community.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, similar bellwether trials have been scheduled in the federal court system involving products manufactured by C.R. Bard, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, American Medical Systems (AMS) and Boston Scientific.

In October, Endo International announced that it has agreed to settle “substantially all” AMS vaginal mesh lawsuits pending against it’s subsidiary, reportedly agreeing to pay about $1.6 billion in settlements.

According to a recent report by the Boston Business Journal, Boston Scientific has set aside nearly $1 billion so far to cover costs associated with the transvaginal mesh litigation. However, there have been no reports involving the settlement of large numbers of cases by Boston Scientific.

Given the lack of progress made by Boston Scientific, Ethicon and C.R. Bard toward resolving the entire litigation, Judge Goodwin has indicated that he plans to speed up the pace of trials for vaginal mesh lawsuits, ordering that hundreds of individual cases be prepared for trial next year.

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