As legal experts predicted, a sixth multidistrict litigation (MDL) for transvaginal mesh lawsuits has been formed because there are so many cases involving the defective devices.
This month, the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered that all federal cases over Coloplast transvaginal mesh be transferred to one court in the Southern District of West Virginia. There are at least 24 federal lawsuits so far, according to the company. In the transfer order, the panel noted that 13 cases had common questions of fact and that most claim the Coloplast mesh and bladder sling products cause serious injury to their users.
“Centralization is consistent with our recent decision creating separate pelvic repair product MDLs involving [other] defendants,” the order states.
MDL Allows Individual Trials and Settlements
In an MDL, the pre-trial discovery processes are consolidated. That means that the lawyers representing each of the plaintiffs and the corporate defendants share all of the evidence and testimonies. Once discovery has concluded, individual trials will begin.
Unlike a class-action lawsuit, an MDL means each plaintiff will have their own trials and settlements. If there is a judgment, it is typically larger than what a member of a class-action lawsuit receives.
Judge Joseph R. Goodwin is overseeing the new Coloplast MDL, which joins four others in that court: Bard-Avaulta; Ethicon, Inc. (Johnson & Johnson); American Medical Systems, Inc.; and Boston Scientific Corp. A fifth, involving Mentor OB Tape, is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia by Judge Clay D. Land.
First State Transvaginal Mesh Settlement
The first federal transvaginal mesh case, in the Bard-Avaulta MDL, is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 5, 2013. However, in the first state case against a transvaginal mesh manufacturer, a California jury held C.R. Bard responsible for the irreversible injuries suffered by patient Christine Scott and awarded her $3.6 million. In all, she received $5 million.
Lawyers for C.R. Bard say the case was not representative of all of the transvaginal mesh claims against it. Still, legal professionals see the settlement as a landmark decision and an indicator of how future cases are likely to play out.
Transvaginal mesh is implanted to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Both of these pelvic floor disorders are common in women whose pelvic muscles have weakened after pregnancy and childbirth.
Unfortunately, many makers of transvaginal mesh based their designs on faulty prototypes, and the various brands of mesh have worsened many patients’ quality of life instead of improving it. Transvaginal mesh is linked to high rates of erosion and perforation of organs, as well as other serious complications, such as pelvic bleeding, new urinary incontinence and painful sexual intercourse.