What is the Status of the Transvaginal Mesh Litigation?
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Thousands of women underwent surgical procedures to repair pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence over the past seven or eight years, believing those procedures to be safe. Unfortunately, those same women were dismayed to find that the mesh implanted in their bodies turned out to cause erosion, the formation of adhesions or fistula, extrusion, infection, shortening of the vagina, nerve injury or the formation of scar tissues resulting in mesh contraction. These women have suffered extreme pain, loss of spousal consortium, loss of wages, huge medical expenses, and an overall loss of quality of life due to a faulty product which was not properly tested prior to marketing.
Because a good portion of the transvaginal lawsuits filed across America propose many of the same allegations against mesh manufacturers, a judicial panel assigned over twelve thousand cases to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Lawsuits have been grouped in MDLs involving comparable claims against common defendants in order to handle them more proficiently. The judge assigned to this District Court is Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. Judge Goodwin will be hearing cases against C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific Corporation, Ethicon, Inc. and Coloplast Corporation.
Trial preparation for the first case began in February, 2013, with the second scheduled trial set to begin in December, 2013. Judge Goodwin has stated he will limit the number of days for each trial in order to expedite the process. In state trials two women have received sizeable verdicts for their mesh injuries. Last July Christine Scott was awarded $5.5 million dollars in California after enduring nine revision surgeries. In February, 2013, Linda Gross was awarded $11.11 million from a New Jersey jury in her lawsuit against Ethicon brand after undergoing eighteen surgeries. The New Jersey jury found a failure to warn as well as fraudulent misrepresentations on the part of Johnson & Johnson.
Currently AMS, Bard, Ethicon, Boston Scientific and Coloplast have MDLs pending in West Virgina, and Mitchell has an MDL pending in Georgia. There are state-consolidated actions across the country. At present there are two pending in New Jersey, one in Boston, one in California and a large number in Texas with two trial dates in Texas this June and July. Some of the manufacturers are intertwined with others due to sales of products which took place over the years. Both Covidien and Sofradim manufacture the mesh used by Bard, therefore a Bard case has to look at the date of the specific product in order to determine which companies are liable.
Further, each manufacturer has multiple mesh products—some for stress urinary incontinence and others for pelvic organ prolapse. In other words, it is expected these mesh cases may get very complicated as attorneys attempt to sort out who is responsible for the harm done to thousands of women. Overall, there are more than 18,000 cases currently filed in MDLs, and that number may continue to rise as more women are coming forward to file suit against manufacturers of Transvaginal Mesh.