Centralization of Lawsuits for Bard Avaulta Mesh Sought in Federal Court

A petition has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize all federal Bard Avaulta vaginal mesh lawsuits in one court for coordinated pretrial proceedings. 

There are currently at least 36 federal court cases pending against C.R. Bard over their vaginal mesh, and the number of cases is expected to increase over the next year as Bard Avaulta lawyers continue to review and investigate potential cases for women who have experienced problems following a procedure where vaginal mesh was implanted to treat pelvic organ prolapse.

All of the lawsuits over Bard Avaulta mesh involve similar allegations that the manufacturer was negligent in the product’s design and in failing to warn patients and physicians about the risk of complications with Bard Avaulta pelvic organ prolapse mesh.

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The panel is scheduled to meet later this month, but oral arguments on the petition to consolidate the Bard Avaulta litigation is not on the docket. It is expected that the panel will consider whether to consolidate the lawsuits when they meet again in September.

The petition was brought by Bard Avaulta attorneys representing plaintiffs in 19 lawsuits filed in Georgia, which they want transferred and consolidated with 15 lawsuits already pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. If an MDL is formed, at least two other lawsuits filed in other federal district courts would likely be transferred as well, for a total of 36 cases. In addition, as new cases are filed in the future, they would also be transferred to the same court for pretrial litigation.

In October 2008, the FDA issued a warning about problems with surgical mesh like the Bard Avaulta. The vaginal mesh products, which are used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), have been associated with over 1,000 reports of severe infection, pain, urinary problems and bowel, bladder or blood-vessel perforations. Many women have also reported recurrences of the prolapse or incontinence, and the need for additional surgeries to remove mesh that had eroded into the vagina.

A pelvic organ prolapse occurs when organs such as the bladder, uterus, bowel or rectum drop and push against the wall of the vagina. This happens when the muscles holding the pelvic organ in place become weak or stretched, often due to childbirth or surgery. The surgical mesh is used to support the muscle.

The plaintiffs claim that the Bard Avaulta vaginal mesh has caused physical and mental injury, pain, suffering, and even loss of bodily organs. Many will have to undergo a number of corrective surgeries. While all of the main plaintiffs are women, in 26 of the cases the husbands have also filed for loss of consortium.

In 2006, another type of surgical mesh used for stress urinary incontinence, known as the Mentor ObTape Vaginal Sling, was linked to similar problems. After a number of Mentor ObTape lawsuits were filed in courts throughout the country by women who experienced problems, the MDL panel decided to centralize the litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. Following an early bellwether trial in the Mentor ObTape litigation, it has been reported that many of those cases settled.

The MDL panel will determine where the Bard Avaulta cases should centralized if coordinated handling is deemed appropriate. Even if the cases are consolidated, they will still remain individual lawsuits and are not considered part of a Bard Avaulta class action suit. If the cases a Bard Avaulta settlement or other resolution for the litigation is not reached during pretrial proceedings, the indviidual cases would ultimately be returned back to the court where they were filed for trial.


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