Mentor ObTape Trial Set to Begin June 1 in Federal MDL

A federal judge has rejected a motion to have the several Mentor ObTape vaginal sling lawsuits dismissed, clearing the way for a consolidated trial of three “bellwether” cases to begin on June 1.¬†

The Mentor ObTape trial was originally scheduled to begin in February, but the start was delayed while the court considered, and ultimately agreed to, the plaintiffs’ request that three of the lawsuits be tried at the same time.

All of the cases involves similar allegations that problems with the Mentor ObTape sling, which is used to treat female stress urinary incontinence, resulted in complications such as vaginal extrusions, urinary tract erosion, severe pain 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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Mentor Corp. distributed approximately 16,271 ObTape slings between 2003 and 2006, when it was removed from the market. Also known as a bladder hammock, the sling is used to provide support for the vaginal wall, reinforcing the muscles that control the flow of urine. According to the complaints, a defective design of the Mentor ObTape can block oxygen and nutrients, increasing the risk that women may suffer severe and debilitating injuries following bladder surgery.

In December 2008, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized the federal Mentor ObTape litigation in the Middle District of Georgia, before U.S. District Judge Clay D. Land. The lawsuits were made part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial proceedings, and three cases originally filed in Georgia were selected for early trial to gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence that will be presented throughout the litigation.

According to court documents filed by Mentor in January, seeking to have the initial cases dismissed, approximately 348 lawsuits over the ObTape vaginal sling have been filed by women who have experienced problems.

In a scheduling order issued April 13, Judge Land indicated that Mentor Corp.’s motion for summary judgment will be denied and the three cases will be consolidated for trial beginning on June 1.

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