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The last in a series of bellwether trials for Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuits was set to begin this week, but the federal judge presiding over the litigation has postponed the start of the case until early next year.
A product liability lawsuit filed by Carolyn Jones against C.R. Bard is the last in a series of four test cases scheduled for early trial dates in the federal court system, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout thousands of similar lawsuits filed by women who have experienced complications from vaginal mesh products.
In an order (PDF) issued on November 20, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin postponed the case for a second time. The case was originally set to begin on November 8, but the final Bard Avaulta trial was pushed back to December 3rd earlier last month. The pretrial conference in the case is now scheduled for January 9, 2014, with the trial set to begin on January 10.
The first Bard Avaulta bellwether trial began before Judge Goodwin in July 2013, involving a complaint filed by Donna Cisson. That case ended with a jury award of $2 million in damages for the plaintiff, including punitive damages designed to punish Bard for their actions in connection with the design and sale of the transvaginal mesh.
During the first day of trial in the second bellwether case, involving a complaint filed by Wanda Queen, the parties reached a settlement agreement to resolve the lawsuit for an undisclosed amount. The third trial was cancelled after the complaint was voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiff.
Vaginal Mesh Lawsuits
Judge Goodwin is currently presiding over more than 36,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, which have been centralized in the Southern District of West Virginia as part of six different MDLs, or Multi-District Litigations. These coordinated proceedings have been established for cases against different manufacturers of the products used to repair pelvic organ prolapse or female stress urinary incontinence.
According to the latest case list (PDF) released by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on November 18, there are currently 5,275 Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuits, 11,369 American Medical System (AMS) mesh lawsuits, 7,131 Boston Scientific mesh lawsuits, 11,376 Ethicon Gynecare mesh lawsuits, 1,101 Coloplast bladder sling lawsuits and about 133 Cook Medical biologic mesh lawsuits.
All of the complaints involve similar allegations that the vaginal mesh was defectively designed and sold without adequate warnings about the risk of women suffering serious and debilitating problems, such as erosion of the mesh through the vagina, infections or other injuries.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings against each of the manufacturers, a series of early trial dates have been scheduled, with the Bard Avaulta cases coming first this year. In 2014, there are at least 8 different vaginal mesh bellwether trials scheduled against the remaining manufacturers, with about one case starting per month between February and September.
The outcomes of the Jones case and other early trial dates are designed to facilitate further attempts to reach vaginal mesh settlement agreements or other resolutions for the cases. However, if the manufacturers fail to resolve a large number of cases following the bellwether processes, it is possible Judge Goodwin may decide to begin remanding individual cases back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for separate trial dates throughout the country.