December 10, 2012 — The judge overseeing a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) involving five manufacturers of vaginal mesh has tentatively scheduled the first trials for December 3, 2013. Judge Joseph R. Goodwin scheduled three trials against American Medical Systems (AMS), Ethicon, and Boston Scientific. The MDLs currently involve nearly 8,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits filed by women who suffered debilitating complications after being implanted with the devices to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) or Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP).
The MDLs against AMS, Ethicon, and Boston Scientific were created in February 2012. Another MDL was formed against Coloplast in August 2012. The fifth manufacturer, C.R. Bard, has been involved in litigation since October 2010, and the first lawsuits are scheduled to begin in early 2013.
Judge Goodwin has ordered that lawyers must submit proposals outlining the selection criteria for choosing which lawsuits will go to trial. In an MDL, these first trials are known as “bellwether” trials. They are typically selected because they involve injuries, facts, and legal questions similar to many other lawsuits. The decisions made in the early trials can help expedite a resolution or potential settlement of other lawsuits in the MDL.
One vaginal mesh lawsuit has already gone to trial in state court. A jury in California awarded a woman and her husband $5.5 million for injuries linked to C.R. Bard’s Avaulta vaginal mesh.
Judge Goodwin also recently ordered that Boston Scientific must turn over documents related to the ProteGen vaginal mesh. Although the ProteGen was recalled in the 1990s due to safety concerns, many manufacturers based their designs for new vaginal mesh products on the ProteGen. Unsurprisingly, the new devices had many of the same safety problems as the original — erosion, organ perforation, scarring, chronic pain, disfigurement of the vagina, infection, inability to have sexual intercourse, recurrent incontinence or prolapse, and more.
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