(July 11, 2018) The pelvic mesh multidistrict litigation (MDL) court is closing to new cases. Judge Joseph Goodwin, who oversees the MDL court in Charleston, W. Va., made the announcement last month.
Medical Mesh News Desk reports that the pelvic mesh MDL court was created in January 2012. At its height, it was handling nearly 105,000 cases. Judge Goodwin issued orders on June 21, 2018 that no more cases would be filed in his federal court.
No More Cases Accepted in MDL 2327
With the MDL closing, any new case filings will need to be in state court, according to the order issued by Judge Goodwin. The judge issued the same order in each of the seven pelvic mesh MDLs filed in his federal court.
Charleston, WV MDL Court Closing
The largest MDL court was established for Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson). Judge Goodwin wrote in Pretrial Order #304 in the Ethicon MDL #2327, that since January 2018, his court has requested cases no longer be transferred to MDL 2327.
On June 19, 2018, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation entered a Minute Order:
“The court ORDERS that plaintiffs may no longer direct file claims against Ethicon, Inc. or Johnson & Johnson or any related entities in the Ethicon MDL (as set forth in PTO # 118) or in any other pelvic mesh MDL assigned to the court.”
The other six MDLs with the same order include all of the major pelvic mesh makers – C.R. Bard MDL 2187; American Medical Systems MDL 2325; Boston Scientific MDL 2326; Coloplast MDL 2387; Cook Medical MDL 2440; Neomedic MDL 2511.
State Court Cases
Heretofore, it appears that any plaintiff’s lawyer wishing to pursue a newly-signed pelvic mesh case will need to file it in a state court venue, either in the state where the mesh maker is located or in the state where the plaintiff lives.
Mesh News Desk reports that it is not known whether the plaintiff will be able to share in the extensive MDL “Discovery” already gathered to support the MDL cases for trial. Discovery costs can quickly reach half a million dollars or more in a single case, so the question is an important one. One advantage of an MDL court is that discovery costs can often be shared across several cases, so in theory at least, that cost savings is one advantage of the MDL court which could disappear in the face of any future pelvic mesh litigation pursued in state courts. The MDL system can also decidedly cut trial preparation time.
But before the doors close entirely, the federal West Virginia MDL court will host two Wave trials, Wave 7 and 8, against Ethicon.
Wave 7 and 8 Trials
Wave 8 cases in the Ethicon MDL, the last major trial by the federal MDL court, should be concluded with discovery by October 2018 and made trial ready in a June 13th order by Judge Goodwin.
Ethicon / Johnson & Johnson still faces Wave 7 trials of approximately 150 pelvic mesh-injured women whose cases will be heard in the West Virginia federal court. Final settlement conferences are scheduled for August 1, 2018, with trial set to begin August 14.
The West Virginia MDL once contained 104,749 cases representing plaintiffs filing pelvic mesh cases against seven mesh makers. New cases slowed to a trickle beginning in 2018.
Pelvic Mesh MDL Closing to New Cases
The cases of Carolyn Lewis v. Ethicon; Donna Cisson v Bard; Jo Huskey v Ethicon; Tyree v. Boston Scientific; among others, have all been heard in Charleston since 2012.
Thousands Dismissed with Prejudice for non-revision
In the Ethicon MDL, Medical Mesh News Desk also reported that Judge Goodwin just announced that he was dismissing thousands of cases with prejudice because they were non-revision cases.
In Pretrial Order #293, issued Wednesday, April 11, 2018, Judge Goodwin said that the court would dismiss more than 13,000 Ethicon mesh cases in which the plaintiff has a mesh in place but has not attempted any removal or revision.
That judiciary decision could prove unfortunate for several women. Many suffer from such compromised health that they fear any return to a doctor’s office could leave them in worse shape than if they took their chances with their current condition or injuries. Any revision or removal surgery can sometimes leave a person in worse shape than she was in before she opted for the revision or removal.
As Jane Akre reports, “There are many reasons a woman may not have her pelvic mesh removed – compromised health, a risk of going under anesthesia, a new complication to her health, a warning from her doctor that the risks of revision outweigh the benefit – all might preclude having a mesh removal. Now that may count against her.”
“Dismissed with prejudice” usually means that a plaintiff may not bring another legal action with the same claim. “Dismissed with prejudice” usually means that the case is dismissed permanently, with no future recourse for the plaintiff to seek compensation.
A possible silver lining, according to Mesh News Desk, is that Ethicon/JJ has reportedly agreed that plaintiffs with more than one office revision who have trigger point injections, vaginal physical therapy or vaginal Valium will be treated the same as those plaintiffs who undergo revision surgery within five years.