Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Prompt Sixth Multidistrict Litigation
A sixth multidistrict litigation (MDL) for transvaginal mesh lawsuits was formed late last month to help handle the high number of cases involving the defective devices.
In August 2012, the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered all federal cases regarding Coloplast transvaginal mesh transferred to one court in the Southern District of West Virginia. At least 24 federal lawsuits have been filed against Coloplast to date, according to the company. The panel noted in the transfer order that 13 cases had common questions of fact and that most claim Coloplast mesh and bladder sling products cause serious injury to their users.
The order states: “Centralization [moving cases into the MDL] is consistent with our recent decision creating separate pelvic repair product MDLs involving [other] defendants.”
Consolidating cases into an MDL still allows individual trials and settlements, with the advantage being that lawyers can share resources and avoid duplicating depositions with the same defendants. An MDL consolidates the pre-trial discovery process for each separate case that has joined the group. Lead attorneys representing all the plaintiffs and the corporate defendants share evidence as well as testimony allowed by the judge. After everything is presented, individual jury trials commence.
Unlike class-action lawsuits, plaintiffs in an MDL eventually receive their own trials and separate settlements. If the case ends with a monetary judgment, it is generally larger than that in a class-action lawsuit.
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 Federal Transvaginal Mesh Trial
The first federal transvaginal mesh case, in the Bard-Avaulta MDL, is scheduled for trial Feb. 5, 2013.
TVM Overview & Our View
Transvaginal mesh is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Both of these conditions are common in older women whose pelvic muscles have weakened after pregnancy and/or childbirth. POP is treatable without TVM, which 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
“One major problem with the mesh,” said Matthews & Associates attorney David Matthews, “is that many TVM makers built their designs from faulty prototypes. Many of the various TVM brands have unfortunately harmed rather than helped many patients’ quality of life.”