New MDL Proposed to Address Neomedic Sling Lawsuits
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) is designed to consolidate lawsuits against the same defendants. The goal is to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges, and reach the quickest possible solution – be it to schedule a series of trials or reach a group settlement.
Currently, transvaginal mesh lawyers are working on a tremendous number of cases against six manufacturers of bladder sling products, including: American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, Cook Medical, Coloplast, C.R. Bard and Ethicon.
This month, plaintiffs urged the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to create a seventh MDL to address the growing number of Neomedic sling lawsuits.
Neomedic sling lawsuits
“Always focused on improving physician’s quality of work and patient’s quality of life” – that is the slogan for Neomedic International, a company founded more than 20 years ago to serve as “the continence company,” providing urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse solutions. However, like similar products on the market, the Needleless sling, Contasure Needless sling and Remeex System have been linked to serious complications.
Plaintiffs involved in 22 Neomedic sling lawsuits say the pelvic repair systems eroded prematurely, punctured and damaged other organs, caused infections, and are quite painful. Multiple revision surgeries are often needed to fix the damage done.
One woman who filed a Neomedic lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama states that she received a Contasure Needless Sling in April 2009 to treat her stress urinary continence, but wound up with severe and permanent injuries. She has lost wages and now has a reduced capacity to earn future wages as a result of complications from revision surgeries.
The complaints span across eight different U.S. District Courts, including one joint case filed on behalf of 24 women in Tennessee, but most lawsuits have been filed in the Southern District of West Virginia. As a result, plaintiffs propose that the proceedings be held there, before the honorable Judge Goodwin who is already presiding over 37,026 other transvaginal mesh cases.
Neomedic opposes the consolidation request
In a December 4 filing, the manufacturer argues that consolidating the cases would be “an unnecessary waste of the Court’s resources and would ultimately result in an overall delay in litigation.”
The nature of pelvic repair systems is complex, as different components may come from different manufacturers. Neomedic argues, “Several of these actions involve a single plaintiff implanted with multiple women’s pelvic repair products manufactured by different defendants, some of which have already been transferred.”
The serious injuries reported are not unique to Neomedic International, the company states, but are common throughout the industry. They acknowledge that the general risks associated with pelvic repair products include:
- The need for multiple repair surgeries
- Intractable pain syndrome
- Tissue shrinkage
- Hyperfibrotic reaction to the mesh
- Painful intercourse
- Degradation of mesh
- Chronic inflammation
- Mesh erosion
- Physical alteration of the genitals, and
- Physical injury to the spouse.
The reason to create MDLs is to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings, they say, and the creation of a seventh MDL would only serve to complicate matters further. “If these pelvic repair product cases are not in MDL proceedings before a single court, it would force the attorneys representing both the plaintiffs and the defendants in these cases to litigate the same issues in several different federal courts, leading to disparate and conflicting rulings,” the manufacturer writes in their statement to the court.
Status of vaginal mesh litigation
As of December 18, 2013, the JPML lists 37,026 lawsuits in the federal court system, coordinated under the following MDLs:
- MDL 2187 – C.R. Bard, Inc. (5,505 lawsuits)
- MDL 2325 – American Medical Systems, Inc. (11,390 lawsuits)
- MDL 2326 – Boston Scientific Corp. (7,310 lawsuits)
- MDL 2327 – Ethicon, Inc. (11,589 lawsuits)
- MDL 2387 – Coloplast Corp. (1,099 lawsuits), and
- MDL 2440 – Cook Medical, Inc. (133 lawsuits).
Litigation is expanding rapidly, with 641 new lawsuits added to the West Virginia District Court proceedings within the last month. Most of the MDLs have a series of early bellwether trials scheduled to evaluate both sides of the argument and gauge how juries will react to the testimonies presented.
Four pelvic mesh cases have gone to trial and reached resolution so far. In July 2012, a California jury ordered C.R. Bard to pay $5.5 million to a plaintiff for injuries caused by their pelvic mesh products. In March 2013, a New Jersey jury ordered Ethicon to pay $11.1 million in damages. A federal jury awarded $2 million in damages against C.R. Bard and the manufacturer promptly settled a second case for an undisclosed sum on the first day of trial.
One case per month is expected from January 2014 through September 2014.
- JPML – Pending Dockets (December 18, 2013) http://www.jpml.uscourts.gov/sites/jpml/files/Pending_MDL_Dockets_By_District-December-16-2013.pdf
- Neomedic International - Who Are We? http://www.neomedic.com/en/content/company/company
- FDA – Public Health Notification: Serious Complications Associated With Transvaginal Placement of Surgical Mesh http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/publichealthnotifications/ucm061976.htm