Ethicon Physiomesh Injury Information to be Provided in Each Case on Plaintiff Profile Forms

As a growing number of lawsuits continue to be filed in the federal court system on behalf of individuals who have suffered an Ethicon Physiomesh injury, each involving similar allegations that the hernia mesh was defectively designed and prone to fail, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has established a standardized Plaintiff Profile Form for the exchange of case-specific information during the early stages of the discovery process. 

Since June 2017, all Ethicon Physiomesh cases filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide have been consolidated as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), which is centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Story in the Northern District of Georgia to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different courts on pretrial matters and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

Each of the hernia mesh lawsuits involve similar allegations that design defects associated with Ethicon Physiomesh caused individuals to suffer painful and debilitating injuries, indicating that Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary failed to adequately warn patients and the medical community about the risk of complications, including adhesions, infections and the need for revision surgery.

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In a Practice and Procedure Order (PDF) issued on January 16, Judge Story ordered all plaintiffs with claims transferred to the MDL court to submit complete a Profile Form by March 1, 2018. Plaintiffs who have their cases transferred after the date of this order will have 60 days to submit their forms.

The Plaintiff Profile Form asks case-specific information about each individual’s Ethicon Physiomesh injury, including when it was implanted, details about the symptoms and outcome from the mesh surgery, as well as other background information.

Plaintiffs will also be required to submit relevant medical records, and other documents related to their claims or injuries from the Ethicon Physiomesh. For plaintiffs who undergo revision surgery or another surgical procedures after completing the Profile Form, Judge Story indicates that they must update their information within 90 days after the date of the surgery, or after their counsel becomes aware of the surgery, whichever is later.

Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit introduced Physiomesh in March 2010, containing an absorbable film coating on each side of a polypropylene hernia mesh, which was designed to help the patch incorporate into the body and minimize inflammation. However, the hernia mesh was recalled last year, after a higher-than-expected number of individuals required revision surgery due to problems with the design.

Following the exchange of information on each case, it is expected that Judge story will establish a “bellwether” process, where a small group of Ethicon Physiomesh cases will be prepared for early trial dates, which are designed to help the parties gauge relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims. Through a unified Plaintiff Profile Form, parties will be better able to identify representative cases.

Following any bellwether trials in the MDL, if the parties fail to reach hernia mesh settlements for individuals who had an Ethicon Physiomesh patch fail, each individual complaint may be transferred back to the U.S. District Court where it originally would have been filed for a future trial date.


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