The Honorable Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia held a status conference Thursday, May 24, 2012, in the U.S. Courthouse in Charleston, West Virginia to coordinate the discovery process for the hundreds of consolidated cases filed by women around the country alleging injuries from transvaginal mesh.
At the status conference the Court worked with the parties to help determine what protective order would be entered, to set the schedule for future hearings and set deadlines for parties within which to conduct depositions and collect discovery in order to move things ahead in a timely manner.
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidates all similar cases into one courtroom and will include the Defendants:
- C.R. Bard, Inc., (MDL No. 2187);
- American Medical Systems Inc., MDL No. 2325);
- Boston Scientific Corp., (MDL No. 2326); and Ethicon, Inc. (MDL No. 2327).
The first Bard Avaulta transvaginal mesh trial, called a bellwether, will represent the many women who suffered injuries from the defective and dangerous medical device including infection, organ perforation, mesh migration and nerve damage, among other problems. The first trial in federal court is set for February 5, 2013 and will be the first among about 600 cases filed against Bard’s Avaulta mesh. With thousands of pages of pretrial information, depositions to schedule and complete, Judge Goodwin is sort of the traffic cop who makes sure everything is ready by trial time.
All of the cases filed in federal courts around the country were consolidated for discovery purposes and for consistency in rulings. Imagine 50 different rulings if these cases were filed in 50 different state courts. Discovery allows both sides to see the documents and take depositions from the key players who may be called at trial. The bellwether is intended to put forth the best arguments and serve as an indicator of whether the future cases will be successful before a jury.
Bard is based in Murray Hill, New Jersey. Cases against Bard are also pending in state courts around the country. Bard is the same company responsible for the Kugel mesh which caused harm and deaths in hernia patients. Kugel was recalled, only to be redesigned and put back on the market.
Plaintiffs, who may eventually number in the thousands, allege that the four manufacturers sold defective synthetic vaginal mesh products used in women as a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Defective cases allege negligence (carelessness), a breach of warranty, and strict liability, which is a wrongful act where the defendant is held responsible for the injury to the plaintiff. First, a plaintiff must have suffered injury in order to be eligible for compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss or consortium, and other injuries.
If there is not a resolution offered by the mesh maker, the cases can be transferred back to their original courts to be tried as an individual case.
The first trial in state court is set for November 5, 2012 in Atlantic City, New Jersey which names J & J’s Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson, unit, maker of the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh.
Plaintiffs can still join the multidistrict litigation and are not restricted to finding representation in their immediate area since these actions are filed in federal court in the MDL.