Information About Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Settlements Can Not Be Filed Under Seal: Court

Judge presiding over more than 21,000 Bard hernia mesh lawsuits has rejected a motion filed by the manufacturer and one group of law firms, indicating the public has a "strong interest" in obtaining information from court records.

While global settlement negotiations continue in tens of thousands of Bard hernia mesh lawsuits, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation has rejected a motion to keep key details of a smaller settlement involving several hundred cases under wraps, indicating that the manufacturer and law firms involved in the deal failed to meet the heavy burden for overcoming a “strong presumption of openness” for court records.

C.R. Bard faces currently more than 21,000 product liability lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that users suffered painful and debilitating injuries caused by design defects associated with various polypropylene products sold in recent years, including the Bard Ventralight, Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix Plug, Bard 3D Max, and similar systems.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in the claims, the litigation has been centralized for the past six years before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio, where a series of three early “bellwether” trials have been held to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout thousands of claims.

Since no agreements were reached to resolve large numbers of claim following the bellwether trials, Judge Sargus ordered the parties to meet with a mediator for global Bard hernia mesh settlement negotiations over the past few months, before starting the process of remanding cases to various different U.S. District Courts nationwide for additional trials.

Hernia Mesh Lawsuits

Did you or a loved one receive a hernia mesh?

Hernia mesh lawsuits are being filed against Bard, Atrium, Covidien and several other hernia mesh manufacturers over mesh failures resulting in injuries and additional surgery.

Learn More About this Lawsuit See If You Qualify For Compensation

Originally, the parties were told to notify the Court of any impasse in negotiations by May 24, with a deadline of June 24, 2024 for proposals to be submitted regarding the remand process if a settlement could not be reached. However, no public information on the global Bard hernia mesh settlement talks has been filed on the docket, and claimants nationwide are eagerly awaiting indication about whether a deal can be reached.

Motion to Seal Bard Hernia Mesh Settlement Information

On June 28, Bard and two law firms representing “several hundred” plaintiffs filed a motion (PDF), requesting permission to file information under seal regarding an agreement that has been reached to resolve a small group of cases, including a request for the Court to establish a qualified settlement fund (QSF) and appoint a settlement claims administrator.

“The information contained in the QSF Motion is not of interest to the general public,” the motion states. “Instead, the QSF Motion contains and discloses the confidential terms of the Parties’ settlement agreement. Disclosure of these confidential settlement terms offers no benefits to the public at large and would interfere with the privacy interests of the Parties.”

Bard indicates in the motion that if terms of this limited settlement are publicly disclosed, it would put them “at a competitive disadvantage in future settlement negotiations with other plaintiffs and law firms,” which have not yet reached an agreement to resolve their claims.

On July 1, Judge Sargus issued an order (PDF) denying the motion to file the settlement information under seal, indicating that previous precedent in such matters have already made it clear that the public has a strong interest in obtaining the information contained in the court record.

“The desire of Defendants and of this particular group of plaintiffs to keep the terms of the QSF Motion secret from other plaintiffs in this MDL, and claimed unfair prejudice to these parties, do not fall into the category of ‘[o]nly the most compelling reasons,’ and do not overcome the ‘strong presumption of openness’,” Judge Sargus states in the order.

The ruling means that the QSF motion, including any required information about the Bard hernia mesh settlement potentially impacting several hundred cases that are subject to the agreement, will have to be filed on the pubic docket.

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