Recent court filings indicate that lawyers expect the number of hernia mesh lawsuits in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) against C.R. Bard to reach 3,000 by the end of 2019.
Currently, there are only a few hundred hernia mesh lawsuits in the MDL. However, they all involve strikingly similar allegations that Bard concealed significant defects in numerous of its polypropylene products to protect market share, causing horrifyingly debilitating and painful complications in recipients of the surgical mesh implants. These include the Bard Ventralex, Perfix and Composix among others.
Due to the similarities in the complaints, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized the federal litigation. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus is presiding over the entirety of the MDL in the Southern District of Ohio.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Status Conference, PTO and CMO
Following a status conference on the hernia mesh lawsuits, Judge Sargus issued a pretrial order (PTO). Judge Sargus indicates that the lawyers representing plaintiffs in the MDL predict that the litigation will have approximately 3,000 claims by the end of 2019.
To streamline this process, Judge Sargus previously approved the direct filing of hernia mesh lawsuits in the MDL. Consequently, plaintiffs have filed a “long-form” master complaint for the standard allegations. This allows new cases to enter the MDL with a “short-form” complaint. Plaintiffs only need to adopt their specific allegations in this short-form.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Bellwether Program
Judge Sargus has also established a bellwether program where the court will prepare a small group of representative cases for a series of early trial dates starting in May 2020. These early test trials will help the MDL parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases and see how juries are likely to respond to evidence that appear throughout the litigation.
Judge Sargus issued a separate case management order (CMO) March 8. The CMO outlines the form procedure and schedule for the 12 plaintiffs involved in the bellwether program to complete Plaintiff Fact Sheets (PFS). These will include case-specific information pertaining to their injuries and lawsuits. The plaintiffs must submit this information by March 25. The court has scheduled parties to meet for another conference April 17.
The court has scheduled the bellwether trials to begin May 8, 2020, July 13, 2020 and September 14, 2020.
Each of the cases brings similar allegations that Bard knew that the polypropylene mesh in Bard’s hernia repair products wasn’t adequate for use in humans and carried serious risk for permanently debilitating injuries, including mesh failure and additional surgery to remove the toxic mesh from patients’ bodies. Often, surgeons are not even able to remove all the harmful mesh or repair all the damage.
The outcomes of the bellwether trials are not binding on the remaining litigation. However, they may help push Bard to resolve the hernia mesh litigation by reaching settlement agreements. Consequently, this could eliminate the need for hundreds, maybe thousands, of individual trial dates.