Three medical device companies face 14,900 hernia lawsuits pending in three federal multidistrict litigations across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused litigation delays in each MDL, and judges have rescheduled bellwether trials for 2021. There haven’t been any publicly reported settlements in these groups of litigation yet.
In the meantime, lawsuit numbers continue to rise.
The first bellwether trial date has been moved several times, and the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed it further. Steven Johns is the first Bard plaintiff scheduled for trial.
Johns’ lawsuit claims he suffered severe complications after his surgeon implanted him with Bard Ventralight ST mesh. After his first surgery, he suffered pain, a hernia recurrence and adhesions. He had surgery to remove the original mesh and replace it with another Ventralight ST.
Trials were originally supposed to start in May 2020. Then, they were rescheduled to September 2020. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Judge Sargus moved the first trial date to Jan. 11, 2021.
In a pretrial order dated Aug. 14, 2020, Judge Sargus noted there may be 10,000 lawsuits against Bard by the time the first case goes to trial. The trial may be rescheduled again if the Court has a scheduling conflict.
Plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude the defense expert testimony of Dr. Yuri William Novitsky and Dr. David B. Renton. Judge Sargus partially granted the motion in an order dated Sept. 11, 2020. He ruled the defense’s experts cannot say the device “is in no way defective” or that the warnings about complication risk were sufficient.
Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Ethicon faces 3,128 Physiomesh hernia mesh lawsuits as of October 2020. Judge Richard Story presides over these cases in the Northern District of Georgia.
In September 2020, four bellwether cases were selected. These include lawsuits filed by Diane and Jim Crumbley, Danielle Guffy, James Bovian and Jeffrey Smith.
The Crumbley’s lawsuit will be the first to go to trial. Jim Crumbley had Ethicon Physiomesh implanted in 2014. His lawsuit claims he had to have a second surgery for complications and still has complications.
The trial is set for Jan. 25, 2021 and is expected to last two to three weeks. The second bellwether will begin on March 29, 2021, the third on June 7, 2021, and the fourth trial date has yet to be determined.
As of October 2020, there are 2,378 Atrium C-QUR mesh lawsuits pending in an MDL in New Hampshire federal court before Judge Landya B. McCafferty.
The first bellwether was originally scheduled for May 2020. In April, Atrium requested the trial date be pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic. The judge granted the request.
Carrie Barron’s lawsuit will be the first bellwether and is scheduled for trial on Jan. 20, 2021. But prior to the trial, plaintiffs and defendants have a deadline of Oct. 26, 2020, for a potential settlement conference, according to a status agenda dated Oct. 1, 2020.
Judge McCafferty indicated that the Barron trial may be conducted with technology that allows any parties to participate remotely, allowing for any issues related to the pandemic. Once plaintiffs and defendants have given their recommendations, the judge will rule on them.
The next bellwether case will be Martha Luna’s case.
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