Vaginal Mesh, Bladder Sling Lawsuits in MDLs Approach 60,000

The number of women throughout the United States pursuing transvaginal mesh lawsuits over problems with bladder sling and vaginal mesh products continues to mount, with a combined total of nearly 60,000 complaints now pending in seven federal multidistrict litigations (MDLs) established for cases against different manufacturers.

All of the complaints involve similar claims that women suffered painful and disfiguring complications following the use of surgical mesh to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or female stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

The lawsuits allege that the manufacturers sold defective and unreasonably dangerous products, withholding information from consumers and the medical community about the risk that the bladder sling and vaginal mesh may erode through the vagina, cause infections and other injuries.

In the federal court system, seven different vaginal mesh MDLs have been established for product liability cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country against C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems (AMS), Ethicon Gynecare, Boston Scientific, Coloplast, Cook Medical and Neomedic.

Each of the MDLs are centralized before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

According to the latest case list (PDF) released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 16, Judge Goodwin is currently presiding over 18,176 Ethicon mesh lawsuits, 17,812 AMS mesh lawsuits, 12,004 Boston Scientific mesh lawsuits, 8,555 Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuits, 1,468 Coloplast mesh lawsuits, 195 Cook Medical mesh lawsuits and about 52 Neomedic mesh lawsuits.

The combined total of 58,262 claims represents a nearly 35% increase in the number of cases pending since March 2014, when the U.S. JPML reported that a combined total of 43,173 cases were centralized before Judge Goodwin. In addition, thousands more cases are pending in various state court systems throughout the country.

Vaginal Mesh Trials and Settlements

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in federal court, Judge Goodwin has scheduled a series of early trial dates involving several of the manufacturers. Known as “bellwether” cases, such test trials are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the litigation.

A lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary was scheduled to begin this month, on June 23, but Judge Goodwin issued an order (PDF) last month delaying the start of the case until August 25.

That lawsuit was brought by Jo Huskey and her husband Allen, claiming that she suffered injuries after receiving an Ethicon TVT-O bladder sling in February 2011, for treatment of stress urinary incontinence. She claims that the mesh has caused a number of complications, resulting in the need for additional procedures to surgically remove the bladder mesh in November 2011.

Huskey’s doctor found “complete erosion of the mesh from the urethra to the pelvic sidewall on the right side”, as well as infected tissue. As a result of the complications, Huskey has had to undergo physical therapy, extensive drug therapy and other procedures to address pelvic pain, spasms, and bladder problems.

This case will be the second of three scheduled Ethicon mesh trials in the federal court system, with the first case ending in a defense verdict earlier this year, after Judge Goodwin found that the plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence showing that the Ethicon TVT pelvic mesh was defectively designed or caused her to suffer any injury. A third Ethicon case is set for trial before Judge Goodin in December 2014.

Later this year, a combined trial involving 11 Boston Scientific mesh cases is set to go before a jury starting in October 2014. That case involves women who experienced problems after receiving a Boston Scientific Obtryx sling for repair of stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Last year, a series of three Bard Avaulta trials were set for trial in the MDL, with the first case going before a federal jury in July 2013, involving a lawsuit filed by Donna Cisson. That trial resulted in a $2 million damage award against Bard, including punitive damages designed to punish the company for the actions during the manufacture and sale of the product. The second and third trials were each settled shortly before they were set to begin, with terms of the deals withheld.

A series of bellwether trials involving AMS mesh products were scheduled to begin this summer, but Judge Goodwin recently cancelled those trials after Endo Health Systems agreed to pay $830 million in an AMS mesh settlement, resolving the majority of all cases pending against it’s subsidiary.

Given the lack of progress towards settling additional cases, Judge Goodwin recent ordered that a second wave of Bard Avaulta cases and Boston Scientific mesh cases be prepared for trial, with hundreds of cases going through case-specific discovery over the remainder of this year so that they can be trial-ready by early 2015.

If the manufacturers fail to reach vaginal mesh settlements to resolve the majority of cases against them, they could face hundreds of individual trial dates scheduled throughout the country next year.

1 Comments

  • KarenJuly 15, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    First of all Donna Cisson only got a small part of that settlement . None of the women in these lawsuits have gotten any millions. The Judges and the attorneys are the only one getting millions from these cases. This is all fraud. Offering less then 10.000 to settle is not worth the time. I wish the judges and attorneys , and the states stop taking small amounts to settle and look at the facts. [Show More]First of all Donna Cisson only got a small part of that settlement . None of the women in these lawsuits have gotten any millions. The Judges and the attorneys are the only one getting millions from these cases. This is all fraud. Offering less then 10.000 to settle is not worth the time. I wish the judges and attorneys , and the states stop taking small amounts to settle and look at the facts. Why have a judge and a attorney if we are not going to practice the law as it is written .

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