Short Form Hernia Mesh Complaint Approved for Ethicon Physiomesh Cases

The U.S. District judge presiding over all federal Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits has approved a Short Form Complaint, which will be used to file all future hernia mesh complaints on behalf of individuals who have experienced problems, and provide a uniform method of describing the allegations for each case. 

Since June 2017, all federal product liability lawsuits over problems with Ethicon Physiomesh have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Story in the Northern District of Georgia, to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different courts on pretrial matters and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

Each of the hernia mesh lawsuits involve similar allegations that Ethicon Physiomesh was defectively designed and manufactured, and that Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary failed to adequately warn patients and the medical community of the risks of complications, including adhesions, infections and the need for revision surgery.

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Cases reviewed for problems with several types of hernia repair products.

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In a Practice and Procedure Order (PDF) issued on September 20, Judge Story approved a Short Form Complaint to be used when filing all future cases, outlining which allegations from a Master Complaint are being adopted by each plaintiff, and providing specific information about when and where the mesh was implanted.

All pending cases will also be required to file a Short Form Complaint, which is designed to standardize the gathering of information about hundreds of potential cases that may be filed against Ethicon directly in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

While there are currently only about 116 Ethicon Physiomesh complaints pending the federal court system, as lawyers continue to review potential claims for individuals who have experienced complications following hernia repair, it is ultimately expected that several thousand lawsuits will be filed in the Ethicon Physiomesh MDL.

Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit introduced Physiomesh in March 2010, containing an absorbable film coating on each side of a polypropylene hernia mesh, which was designed to help the patch incorporate into the body and minimize inflammation. However, the hernia mesh was recalled last year, after a higher-than-expected number of individuals required revision surgery due to problems with the design.

As part of the coordinated MDL proceedings, it is expected that a small group of Ethicon Physiomesh cases will be selected for a “bellwether” process, which is designed to help the parties gauge relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims. Through a unified short-form complaint, parties are able better able to identify representative cases.

Following any bellwether trials in the MDL, if the parties fail to reach hernia mesh settlements for individuals who had an Ethicon Physiomesh patch fail, each individual complaint may be transferred back to the U.S. District Court where it originally would have been filed for a future trial date.


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