Transvaginal Mesh Litigation Growing Rapidly in Various MDLs
The number of federal transvaginal mesh lawsuits being filed on behalf of women throughout the United States has accelerated since the litigation against several manufacturers of the surgical mesh products were centralized and consolidated last month.
In early February, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that three new transvaginal mesh multidistrict litigations (MDLs) be established for all product liability lawsuits filed over problems associated with products manufactured by American Medical Systems (AMS) , Boston Scientific and Ethicon/Gynecare, respectively.
As a result of the Panel’s order, all lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the United States will be transferred to the Southern District of West Virginia for coordinated handling before Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin during pretrial proceedings.
Since all of the claims involve similar questions of law and fact, the centralization of the transvaginal mesh litigation is designed to prevent contradictory rulings from different judges, reduce scheduling conflicts, avoid duplicative discovery and serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.
Over the four weeks since the MDLs were established, the number of complaints pending against each of the manufacturers has roughly doubled.
The MDL Panel originally transferred 80 AMS transvaginal mesh lawsuits to the Southern District of West Virginia, and as of March 5 an additional 78 cases have been transferred. The Panel originally transferred 36 Ethicon transvaginal mesh lawsuits, and as of March 8 another 48 cases have been transferred. For Boston Scientific transvaginal mesh lawsuits, the Panel originally transferred 21 cases, and as of March 2 another 27 complaints have been identified for transfer to Judge Goodwin.
All of the complaints allege that manufacturers sold defective transvaginal mesh products, which were used during surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and female stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers failed to adequately research and test their products or warn about the risk of painful and debilitating complications from transvaginal mesh, such as pelvic pain, infection and erosion of the mesh through the vagina.
Public awareness about the risk of the vaginal mesh problems increased last year, after the FDA issued warnings about an increasing number of adverse event reports associated with the products. In July 2011, the FDA issued transvaginal mesh warning, indicating that they have been unable to find any evidence that transvaginal mesh kits used for repair of pelvic organ prolapse provide any benefit over other available means of treatment.
Judge Goodwin has scheduled an initial status conference in the three MDLs for April 13, at which time it is expected that various attorneys will be assigned to different leadership roles in the litigations.
In addition to lawsuits against AMS, Boston Scientific and Ethicon, hundreds of lawsuits over Bard transvaginal mesh products are also consolidated before Judge Goodwin. The Bard Avaulta MDL was formed in October 2010 with 21 cases, and as of earlier this month about 350 additional cases have been transferred into that consolidated litigation.
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