The second “bellwether” trial in the Kugel hernia patch litigation is scheduled to begin later this summer, involving a case where the plaintiff suffered severe internal injuries from a broken ring on the Kugel patch.
According to a scheduling order issued this week by Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi, who is presiding over the consolidated multidistrict litigation (MDL) for the Kugel patch, jury selection is set to begin July 28 in a case filed by Christopher Thorpe, of North Carolina, and his wife, Laura. The couple is suing Davol, Inc. and C.R. Bard, Inc. over a defective Comosix Kugel patch, which contained a plastic ring around the perimeter that broke.
Thorpe claims to have suffered an abdominal wall abscess and fistula from the broken Kugel hernia patch ring. Eventually, the broken ring became stained with bile and caused Thorpe to become septic. Thorpe required numerous surgeries to repair the damage and the broken Kugel hernia patch lawsuit claims he continues to suffer physical pain.
Between 2005 and 2007, three separate Kugel patch recalls were issued for different sizes and models of the hernia mesh. The recalls were issued because the plastic ring in the mesh was found to be prone to break, potentially causing bowel perforations, chronic intestinal fistula and other internal injuries that often require additional surgery to remove the mesh.
There are more than 1,300 other Kugel hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, where all federal lawsuits have been centralized under Judge Lisi. Another 1,774 lawsuits over the Composix Kugel patch have been centralized in Rhode Island Superior Court under Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney.
Thorpe’s case is the second “bellwether” Kugel hernia patch trial in the federal MDL, which are cases selected for early trials to help the parties get a sense of how juries will respond to evidence that may be similar to what will be presented in other cases. The results of the bellwether trials may lead to the settlement of Kugel hernia patch lawsuits over broken rings in other cases.
The first Kugel bellwether trial, which involved a case brought by John Whittfield, ended in a defense verdict last month. While the jury in that case found that Davol and Bard were negligent in the design of the Composix Kugel patch, they indicated that the plaintiff did not provide that his hernia repair problems were directly caused by or contributed by the negligent design.
At least two other cases have also been selected for bellwether trials in the Kugel litigation, with those trials expected to begin later this year.