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Covidien Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Should Be Centralized in 5th MDL, Manufacturers Argue

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With a growing number of hernia mesh lawsuits over Covidien products being filed throughout the federal court system, the manufacturer is asking a panel of federal judges to establish a fifth multidistrict litigation (MDL), which would join similar centralized proceedings previously established for lawsuits over Atrium C-Qur, Ethicon Physiomesh, Bard polyproplyene mesh and Kugel patches.

In a Motion for Transfer (PDF) filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on Friday, Covidien indicates that there are at least 12 complaints pending in nine different federal district courts, each raising similar allegations that design defects associated with Covidien Parietex and other products caused individuals to experience painful and debilitating complications after a hernia repair, often resulting in the need for risky revision surgery to remove the failed mesh.

While the manufacturer maintains that the claims are without merit, it acknowledges that the number of lawsuits is likely to “balloon” as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, similar to how cases rose sharply against Atrium, Ethicon and Bard over alleged design defects associated with their competing products.

In separate consolidated MDLs, there are currently more than 2,044 Atrium C-Qur lawsuits, 2,708 Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits and 3,570 Bard hernia mesh lawsuits, with the estimates suggesting that the Bard litigation may include more than 10,000 claims by the end of this year.

Covidien Parietex is another composite hernia mesh product, which is manufactured and sold by a subsidiary of Medtronic, Inc. The manufacturer commands a significant share of the hernia mesh market, designing and selling about 20% of all surgical mesh products used during hernia repair in recent years.

“Discovery has not begun in most cases, and is just beginning in others,” according to the motion, which seeks to centralize the litigation before one judge in the Southern District of New York. “Accordingly, the reasons that led the Panel to centralize the litigations involving the hernia mesh products of Atrium, Ethicon, and Bard are present here: (1) there are common factual questions arising out of allegations that defects in the Covidien products led to complications following hernia repair surgery, and (2) centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery and prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, while (3) conserving the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”

After plaintiffs are provided an opportunity to file responses in support or opposition to the transfer, it is expected that the U.S. JPML will schedule oral arguments during an upcoming hearing set for July 30 in Boston, Massachusetts or September 24 in Birmingham, Alabama.

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