A Review of Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit Consolidations
On July 13, 2011, the FDA issued a safety communication update informing healthcare practitioners and the public about serious complications associated with vaginal mesh. Used to repair weakened or damaged vaginal tissues, surgical mesh devices have been associated with serious side effects, including vaginal mesh erosion, infections, bleeding, extreme pain, organ perforation, pain during sexual intercourse, and urinary problems.
Women who have suffered these and other serious side effects have hired a vaginal mesh lawyer to seek compensation for their injuries in court. In fact, so many patients have been affected by these products that federal lawsuits have been consolidated throughout the country over the last several years. The most recent consolidation brings cases involving five different companies together into one court in the Southern District of West Virginia.
Difference between MDL and vaginal mesh class action lawsuit
Though a vaginal mesh multidistrict litigation (MDL) is similar to a vaginal mesh class action lawsuit, there are some differences. An MDL brings many cases together to one court, with all parties combining resources and sharing discovery, but each plaintiff’s case is decided on an individual basis.
A class action lawsuit, on the other hand, is a single lawsuit that involves many members. A small number of members or a single member represents all others. Everyone shares resources in the lawsuit, but the case is decided on a singular basis, and all plaintiffs share in any jury award or negotiated settlement.
An overview of vaginal mesh MDLs
Several companies are involved in designing, manufacturing, and selling vaginal mesh products. Many of these are currently involved in litigation concerning alleged defects and health risks. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all federal cases involving these companies into one court, but as more women complained of vaginal mesh side effects like erosion, the JPML brought five MDLs together under one judge in West Virginia:
- C.R. Bard (MDL 2187)
- American Medical Systems (MDL 2325)
- Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL 2326)
- Ethicon, Inc. (MDL 2327)
- Coloplast (MDL 2387)
A sixth MDL involving hundreds of lawsuits concerning the allegedly defective Mentor ObTape is proceeding in the Middle District of Georgia. Manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has already negotiated settlements in some cases there.
Bellwether trials set for 2013
On December 6, 2012, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, who is overseeing the vaginal mesh MDLs in West Virginia, held a status conference to inform the parties involved that a series of three bellwether trials will begin in December 2013. These initial trials all involve different manufacturers–American Medical Systems, Ethicon, and Boston Scientific—and are expected to set precedents for how the other lawsuits will be handled.
The next status conference is scheduled for January 10, 2013. Women who have been injured by vaginal mesh side effects are encouraged to seek a consultation with a vaginal mesh lawyer.