Plaintiffs Urge MDL Judge To Begin Remanding Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuits For Trial
Following a number of court victories, and a failure to reach a global settlement agreement to resolve Bard hernia mesh lawsuits, plaintiffs are now asking a federal judge to establish a process that will begin remanding claims back federal district courts nationwide for individual trials.
Nearly 21,000 product liability lawsuits have been filed against C.R. Bard throughout the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that users suffered painful and debilitating injuries caused by design defects associated with various polypropylene products sold in recent years, including the Bard Ventralight, Bard Ventralex, Bard Perfix Plug, Bard 3DMax, and other similar systems.
Since each of the claims raise similar questions of fact and law, the hernia mesh lawsuits have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio since August 2018, as part of a federal Bard hernia mesh MDL, where the parties have prepared a small group of representative claims for early trial dates. However, settlement negotiations have stalled and thousands of claimants are still awaiting their day in court.
Judge Sargus presided over the first Bard hernia mesh trial in August 2021, which resulted in a defense verdict for Bard, following lengthy delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a second bellwether trial followed in April 2022, resulting in a $255,000 verdict, and the third resulted in a $500,000 verdict in November 2023.
In August 2022, a state court lawsuit in Rhode Island ended with a $4.8 million verdict over Bard Ventralex mesh problems, which sent a strong signal to the manufacturer about the extent of liability it may face if each of the remaining cases goes before a jury.
With a fourth and final Bard hernia mesh bellwether trial scheduled to go before a jury in April 2024, involving complications with Bard 3DMax mach, the parties still have not made progress resolving large numbers of claims through settlement negotiations.
Plaintiffs Seek Remand of Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
In a motion (PDF) filed on December 23, the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (PSC) is calling for a court order to begin the process of remanding Bard hernia mesh lawsuits back to their originating courts, noting the lack of progress on a global settlement agreement.
“(I)t is time for an order that contemplates and outlines a remand process to ensure that plaintiffs who have cases filed in this MDL – many of whom have been waiting for nearly six years – will see their day in court or otherwise reach a just resolution to their claims,” the PSC states. “The PSC’s proposed case management order achieves this purpose.”
The motion notes that the pretrial proceedings have essentially concluded, indicating that the Court has already stated that the upcoming fourth bellwether trial will be the last.
“With the fourth bellwether trial being a mere three and a half months away, the time to set the remand wheels in motion by putting a remand mechanism in place, is now,” the motion states.
In response, Judge Sargus issued a court order (PDF) on December 27, giving defendants 20 days from that date to respond to the plaintiffs’ motion. The PSC will have 10 days to file any reply to the defendants’ response.
While the outcome of the early bellwether trials have no binding impact on other claims, facing the prospect of hundreds of individual claims going before juries in different U.S. District Courts nationwide will increase pressure on the manufacturer to negotiate hernia mesh settlements to resolve large groups of claims.
“Put simply, if these cases are allowed to sit in the MDL and continue at the same pace of 1 to 2 trials per year, it would take between 10,000 to 20,000 years to try every case,” according to the Plaintiffs’ motion seeking a remand process that will start with a first tranch of 1,500 cases, representing approximately 7.5% of all filed cases in the MDL.
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