As more patients learn that many of the products surgeons have been using for hernia repair surgery during the past decade are dangerously defective, hernia mesh lawsuits against Ethicon, Atrium, C.R. Bard and other manufacturers continue to flood the nation’s courts.
Recent court filings indicate that there are now more than 3,100 hernia mesh lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system. All these claims raise similar allegations that the massive popular surgical implants are considerably dangerous and unfit for use in humans.
Due to the striking similarities in lawsuits against the various larger manufacturers, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has established three federal multidistrict litigations (MDLs) to consolidate claims to reduce duplicative discovery and conflicting pretrial rulings that can further hold up this type of complex litigation.
Ethicon Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
The largest of these MDLs involve all federal Physiomesh lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its Ethicon unit. District Judge Richard Story is presiding over the MDL in the Northern District of Georgia. The Physiomesh MDL includes more than 1,800 hernia mesh lawsuits.
J&J quietly removed the defective product from the global market in May 2016 rather than issuing a proper recall to warn patients and physicians after patients began experiencing high rates of dangerous complications following surgical implantation with Physiomesh. Complications include debilitating abdominal pain, chronic infection, hernia mesh failure, erosion, adhesions, and hernia recurrence due to the defective multi-layered polypropylene mesh design. In most case, the only treatment for these complications is additional invasive surgeries.
Atrium C-Qur Lawsuits
The JPML also established an MDL for all federal Atrium C-Qur lawsuits over serious complications from the mesh’s Omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) gel coating. District Judge Landya is overseeing the litigation in the District of New Hampshire.
Atrium introduced the C-Qur mesh in March 2006. The company intended the unique design to reduce scar tissue formation, while helping the mesh adhere to the abdominal wall. Due to the hernia mesh's defects, patients began experiencing inflammatory responses, bowel adhesions and other life-altering complications. Consequently, the litigation has exploded and now includes nearly 1,100 hernia mesh lawsuits.
Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Most recently, the JPML consolidated all lawsuits against C.R. Bard for a variety of dangerously defective mesh products, including Bard Composix, Perfix, and Ventralex among others. The panel centralized the lawsuits for pretrial proceedings before District Judge Admund A. Sargus in the Southern District of Ohio.
Currently, there are a little less than 250 Bard lawsuits pending in the MDL. However, Judge Sargus recently established procedures to streamline the direct filing of complaints into the MDL. Consequently, experts are projecting that several thousand more claims will join the MDL in the next coming months.
All three of the hernia mesh MDLs have established bellwether programs. The courts will prepare small groups of representative claims for early trial dates. These "test" trials help determine how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony that appears throughout the litigation. Depending on the results of these trial, parties may be able to reach settlement agreements with the manufacturers to resolve the litigation. The first cases will be going to trial in early 2020.