The next two trial dates in the federal Kugel hernia patch litigation are scheduled to begin in May and July 2011, marking the third and fourth “bellwether” lawsuits to reach a jury in the MDL (multidistrict litigation).
The cases, which were brought by Vivian Bruce and Bridget McElhatton, were selected for early trials to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence that will be similar in other Kugel hernia patch lawsuits.
All of the Kugel patch lawsuits involve similar allegations that hernia repair mesh manufactured by C.R. Bard and their Davol, Inc. subsidiary were defective and caused severe internal injuries when they failed.
There are currently about 1,300 lawsuits over Kugel hernia patch products pending in the federal court system, where they are consolidated as part of an MDL before Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. In addition, another 1,700 lawsuits are centralized in Rhode Island state court under Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney.
The Kugel patch lawsuit brought by Vivian Bruce, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is scheduled for trial to begin in May 2011. Bruce had a Composix Kugel Patch inserted in April 2005, and her complaint alleges that it failed in the summer of 2007. As a result, Bruce suffered an abdominal abscess when the patch detached from its position, causing a fistula. The damage caused her to suffer a severe infection.
The case brought by Bridget McElhatton, of Wisconsin, is scheduled for trial to begin in July 2011. McElhatton had a Kugel Patch inserted in July 2006 to treat a hernia, and alleges that she suffered an abdominal wall abscess in 2008, which later ruptured. According to the complaint, doctors found that the ring of her Kugel patch broke and perforated her bowel.
Bellwether cases are selected to help the parties judge the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and to promote a possible Kugel hernia patch settlement or other resolution for the litigation. Although the first bellwether jury verdict came down in favor of hernia patch makers, the jury did find that Davol and Bard were negligent in the design of their Composix Kugel patch. However, that plaintiff was not awarded any damages for his hernia repair problems, because the jury determined that he did not establish that the injuries were directly caused by or contributed by the design problems.
UPDATE 1/3/2010: The original version of this post indicated that the trial in the Vivian Bruce case was scheduled to begin in April 2011. Pursuant to an amended pretrial order issued December 29, the Bruce trial is now scheduled to commence in May 2011.