The first trial out of about 3,000 Kugel mesh lawsuits is set to begin today in federal court, involving allegations that a defective hernia patch caused a Missouri man to suffer severe internal injuries.
The Kugel mesh hernia patch trial, which involves a claim filed by plaintiff John Whitfield, will be held in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island before Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi, who is presiding over pretrial litigation for all federal cases involving similar allegations.
The case is the first of four “bellwether” Kugel patch trials, which parties and the court will try to use to gauge how juries will respond to evidence and witness testimony that may be presented throughout the other cases in the Kugel mesh litigation.
During a hernia repair surgery in January 2004, Whitfield had a Kugel patch implanted that was manufactured by Davol, Inc., a division of C.R. Bard, Inc. At some point after it was implanted, the hernia patch allegedly broke inside his body and caused Whitfield to develop multiple and severe injuries after it became intertwined with his hernia. The mesh allegedly caused bowel obstructions, severe abdominal pain and swelling, nausea, sickness, permanent bowel disfigurement, and other problems.
Eventually, Davol and C.R. Bard issued a Kugel mesh recall for the hernia patch model that was implanted in Whitfield as a result of multiple reports of similar problems. Between 2005 and 2007, three separate recalls for Kugel mesh were issued for different sizes and models of the hernia patch. The recalls were issued because of problems with a plastic ring in the mesh that was prone to break, potentially causing bowel perforations, chronic intestinal fistula and other internal injuries that often require additional surgery to remove the mesh.
Whitfield is charging Davol with several counts of negligence, breach of warranty and liability, seeking compensation for medical expenses, permanent disfigurement, economic losses, and pain and suffering. He is also seeking punitive damages against the company for what the lawsuit claims was a complete indifference or conscious disregard for the safety of others.
Whitfield’s trial is one of more than 1,300 which have been consolidated and centralized under Lisi as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. There are also another 1,774 hernia mesh lawsuits which have been filed in Rhode Island Superior Court, on the state level, under Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney. The first of those lawsuits is expected to go to trial in July
According to earlier reports, there have been a handful of Kugel mesh settlements confidentially reached in individual cases. The outcome of the bellwether Kugel trials could impact how the remaining cases are resolved, potentially resulting in an attempt to reach a global settlement of the litigation.