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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits has appointed a small group of attorneys to serve in various leadership roles in the recently consolidated litigation over the recalled hernia mesh products.
In June 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all federal product liability lawsuits filed over complications following Ethicon Physiomesh hernia repairs before U.S. District Judge Richard Story in the Northern District of Georgia, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
While there are currently only about 100 cases pending the federal court system, as hernia mesh attorneys continue to review and file additional cases in the coming weeks and months, it is ultimately expected that several thousand lawsuits will involve Ethicon Physiomesh problems.
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints, transferring all cases to Judge Story is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid contradictory pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
In an order (PDF) issued August 3, Judge Story adopted a proposed leadership structure for attorneys representing individual plaintiffs nationwide, appointing two attorneys to serve as Co-Lead Counsel, one to serve as Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and a group of 12 lawyers to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee.
These attorneys will take certain actions during discovery and the MDL proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs’ involved in the litigation, including conducting generic discovery, coordinating the exchange of information, presenting oral arguments to the court on pretrial matters and negotiating potential global hernia mesh settlements with the manufacturer.
The pretrial order also calls for the parties to prepare an order for direct filing of future hernia mesh cases involving Ethicon Physiomesh directly into in the Northern District of Georgia, which would streamline the process for bringing new claims, and avoid the delays associated with transferring cases from various U.S. District Courts nationwide.
Ethicon Physiomesh was introduced in March 2010, containing an absorbable film coating on each side of a polypropylene 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.
The order also sets the next status conference in the litigation for September 12.