Covidien Mesh Lawsuits To Be Selected For First Federal Bellwether Trials in January 2025
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Covidien hernia mesh lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system has agreed to adopt a proposal put forward by plaintiffs, which will have a group of six claims prepared as bellwether cases, with two trial cases selected in early 2025.
There are about 600 hernia mesh lawsuits filed against Medtronic and it’s Covidien subsidiary in U.S. District Courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that painful and debilitating complications were caused be a defective design used for certain polypropylene mesh products sold in recent years, including Covidien Parietex, Covidien Symbotex and others.
However, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file claims over the coming months, the size of the litigation is expected to increase rapidly. Therefore, all claims filed throughout the federal court system have been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris in the District Judge in Massachusetts, as part of a Covidien mesh MDL (multidistrict litigation).
To help facilitate potential Covidien mesh settlement negotiations or another resolution for the litigation, Judge Saris is currently establishing a “bellwether” process, where a group of representative cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.
Last month, Judge Saris ordered the parties to meet and confer regarding the timing for dispositive and Daubert motion deadlines, and plan for selecting potential bellwether cases. As a result, plaintiffs and defendants each put forward competing scheduling orders, disagreeing on how many cases should ultimately be prepared for the first bellwether trials.
In position statements (PDF) issued on September 8, plaintiffs proposed that only two of the six cases selected for the initial bellwether trial pool be prepared to go before juries. Defendants, on the other hand, called for all six cases to be prepared at once.
Plaintiffs argued that preparing all six at once would overburden the Court, and in a handwritten order (PDF) issued on September 18, Judge Saris agreed.
“In light of the Court’s resources, I find the plaintiff’s proposed order is preferable,” Judge Saris wrote.
On the same day, the judge issued a case management order (PDF) which lays out the pretrial schedule leading up to the selection of bellwhether claims.
The order calls for the parties to each identify one plaintiff from the Bellwether Discovery Pool by September 15, 2024, which will be the first two cases to go before juries. An October 14, 2024 deadline was established for filing dispositive or Daubert motions, with a November 22, 2024 deadline for responses to those motions, and the order of trial cases will be established in January 2025.
Covidien Attorney Leadership Roles Appointed
In another case management order (PDF) issued on September 18, Judge Saris named 10 attorneys to plaintiff leadership positions in the litigation. This includes two attorneys appointed to plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel, one to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, two attorneys to serve on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee, and a Plaintiffs Steering Committee consisting of five attorneys.
These lawyers will take certain actions during the pretrial proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs presenting claims, including arguing motions, taking depositions of common witnesses, reviewing discovery documents and other actions. However, each individual pursuing a claim will still retain their own lawyer to establish that their specific injury was caused by the Covidien mesh and negotiate a settlement of their case.
While the outcomes of the Covidien hernia mesh bellwether trials will not be binding on other plaintiffs, they may help determine the average hernia mesh lawsuit payouts that Covidien would be required to pay if each case goes to trial nationwide.
If the parties fail to resolve the claims during the MDL proceedings, Judge Saris may later remand each individual case to the U.S. District Court where it originated for a future trial date.
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