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Transvaginal Mesh Plaintiffs Look Ahead to Settlement Talks

Transvaginal Mesh patient

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, who has previously attempted to facilitate transvaginal mesh settlement negotiations for more than 70,000 lawsuits, has ordered another joint status conference for the representatives of the parties involved with mesh cases currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The pretrial order scheduling the joint conference applies to all defendants, save for Neomedic.

C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific Corp., Ethicon, Inc., Coloplast Corp., and Cook Medical Inc. have all been named as defendants in their respective multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings.

Settlement agreements urgently needed

Since the October 2010 creation of the Bard Avaulta MDL, Judge Goodwin has been presiding over all of the transvaginal mesh MDLs in the country. Among them are approximately 23,569 Ethicon transvaginal mesh lawsuits, 19,093 lawsuits filed against American Medical Systems (AMS), and 15,429 Boston Scientific lawsuits, among others. The defendant with the fewest pending vaginal mesh lawsuits is Neomedic at less than a hundred cases.

The entirety of the federal court system throughout the country handles only about 2,000 trials each year. If the parties are unable to reach settlement agreements soon, Judge Goodwin is expected to begin remanding cases back to their home districts for further proceedings. This is typical of the way in which an MDL proceeds. Similar cases against a common defendant are consolidated into a federal court for the purposes of streamlining pretrial proceedings, such as discovery. Then, a few bellwether trials are held. These initial trials essentially serve as a barometer of litigation trends.

After the bellwether trials, cases that remain unresolved through settlement deals are sent back to their home districts for individual trial dates.

The next round of settlement discussions will be initiated during the joint status conference on June 2, 2015. The defendants are required to send representatives who have the authority to make settlement agreements. Representatives from the Plaintiffs Steering Committee will also participate. Following the joint status conference for all defendants and plaintiffs, individual meetings are scheduled for five of the pending MDLs.

Plaintiffs call transvaginal mesh products unreasonably dangerous

Since serious complications allegedly caused by transvaginal mesh products first came to light, thousands of women have filed lawsuits against the manufacturers. Transvaginal mesh products are implantable devices intended to provide support to the pelvic region to combat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

Some of the plaintiffs claim that the mesh material eroded and protruded through nearby bodily structures, leading to infections, nerve damage, and chronic, severe pain. Many women underwent revision surgeries in an attempt to remove the mesh product; some had to undergo multiple revision surgeries, accruing significant financial losses in the process.

An FDA advisory panel that evaluated the potential problems associated with the transvaginal mesh requested the statements of several patients. A 43-year-old mother who testified before the panel told WBUR, “I was in the most horrendous pain I’ve ever experienced. I finally ended up in the ER after expressing a desire to end my life just to escape the pain. If I knew one-tenth of the information out there in the literature…I would have never consented to this surgery.”

So far, AMS is the only manufacturer to have settled most of the claims pending against them. The company has agreed to pay $1.6 billion, which will resolve over 20,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits.

  1. WBUR’s Common Health Reform and Reality, Surgery Under Scrutiny: What Went Wrong With Vaginal Mesh,
  2. Public Citizen, Petition to Ban Surgical Mesh for Transvaginal Repair of Pelvic Organ Prolapse,