Mentor ObTape Lawsuit MDL Trial Postponed Until June 2010

The first trial date in the federal Mentor ObTape litigation has been postponed until June 2010, as the Court mulls a request by plaintiffs to have several cases tried at the same time.

There are currently at least 40 lawsuits pending against Mentor Corporation over problems with their ObTape transobturator vaginal sling that was used between 2003 and 2006 to treat women with Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).

Also known as a bladder hammock, the ObTape sling was used to provide support for the vaginal wall, reinforcing muscles that control the flow of urine. However, the Mentor ObTape lawsuit complaints all contain similar allegations that the sling was defectively designed, and resulted in complications such as severe pain, vaginal extrusions, urinary tract erosion and infection. Some women have required multiple surgeries to remove the sling and have been left with permanent and debilitating injuries.

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Although a Mentor ObTape recall was never issued, the company stopped selling the sling in 2006, only three years after it was first released.

In December 2008, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated and centralized all of the lawsuits over the vaginal sling in the Middle District of Georgia, before U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land.

At the time the MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, was formed for coordinated pretrial litigation, there were 17 ObTape lawsuits filed in various federal district courts. Since that time, another 22 cases have been transferred, and this month the fortieth case was identified for transfer from the Eastern District of Arkansas, since it appears to involve questions of fact that are common to the other cases.

According to a Discovery, Scheduling and Case Management Order issued in January 2009, Judge Land identified 21 “Phase I” lawsuits, which were selected for early discovery and trials. The order called for the first ObTape trial to be ready to begin in February 2010.

A hearing was held on Tuesday over the Plaintiffs’ motion to consolidate Phase I cases for trial, which the court has suggested may be too complex of an undertaking. The plaintiffs estimated that a trial of 4 or 5 consolidated plaintiffs would last between 4 to 5 weeks.

The Court has given the plaintiffs until September 9, to file a supplemental brief narrowing the group down to four plaintiffs for consolidation. The Defendants will then have until September 25, to respond.

Following the hearing, the Court amended the scheduling order, such that the trial of the first Mentor ObTape lawsuit is now set to begin on June 1, 2010 in Columbus, Georgia.

As the first trials are being prepared, Mentor ObTape lawyers who represent plaintiffs are continuing to review additional claims on behalf of women across the country who have experienced complications following a bladder lift where the sling was used. As additional cases are filed in various federal district courts throughout the United States, they will be transferred to Judge Land’s court in the Middle District of Georgia for pretrial proceedings.


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