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As a growing number of Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh lawsuits continue to be filed in the recently established federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), the U.S. District Judge presiding over the cases has appointed a small group of plaintiffs’ attorneys to serve in various leadership roles during discovery and pretrial proceedings.
In December 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated the Atrium C-Qur litigation pending throughout the federal court system, centralizing all cases before U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty in the District of New Hampshire to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
Each of the claims raise similar allegations, maintaining that the Atrium C-Qur mesh was defectively designed and unreasonably dangerous for use during hernia repair surgery, causing plaintiffs to suffer painful and debilitating complications, such as adhesions, allergic reactions, infections or other problems. In nearly all of the cases, plaintiffs required additional surgery to remove the hernia patch months or even years after it was implanted.
On March 13, Judge McCafferty issued a case management order (PDF) appointing a Plaintiffs’ Lead Counsel, Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel, and five attorneys to serve on a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee. In addition, one other attorney will serve as Plaintiffs’ State Liaison Counsel, coordinating status updates regarding cases filed at the state court level.
These lawyers will take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs who are pursuing a hernia mesh case over the Atrium C-Qur product, coordinating and managing discovery, as well as arguing motions before the court.
On the same day, the judge issued a Pretrial Order (PDF) approving a joint proposal by plaintiffs and defendants on the preservation, collection and division of pathological materials from Atrium C-Qur surgeries which could be used as evidence at trial.
The Atrium C-Qur patch was introduced for hernia repair surgery in 2006, and it has been used during procedures nationwide over the past decade. The polypropylene mesh has an Omega-3 gel coating, which was designed to reduce scar tissue formation while promoting fixation of the mesh to the abdominal wall. However, plaintiffs allege that this coating actually causes severe complications from Atrium CQur mesh, inciting an inflammatory response that promotes bowel adhesion, impedes proper abdominal wall fixation and causes other problems following hernia repair.
While there are currently only about two dozen cases pending over problems with Atrium C-Qur, as hernia mesh lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits will be added to the MDL.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge McCafferty will establish a “bellwether” trial plan, which will select a small group of representative cases for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Atrium C-Qur hernia mesh settlements or another resolution is not reached following the MDL proceedings, each individual case may ultimatley be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date.