Transvaginal Mesh Litigation – MDL, Class Action & Mass Tort Lawsuits
While it is true that women who have been severely harmed by transvaginal mesh devices have the opportunity to seek substantial sums in terms of punitive and compensatory damages, such financial recovery is never going to be able to restore their lives to what they were prior to being implanted with defective products.
Crippling pain, risky revision surgery, reduced quality of life and even damaged marital relationships are a few of the lasting consequences of surgical mesh procedures. With decades of experience fighting on behalf of those injured by the negligence of device manufacturers, The Sanders Firm stands ready to pursue every dollar of available compensation through transvaginal mesh litigation. We know what it takes to hold the responsible corporate giants accountable for the harm inflicted on unsuspecting consumers.
Touted as safe and effective treatment for conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, mesh patches, vaginal slings and other similar devices have produced an onslaught of product liability litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country.
Well over 50,000 plaintiffs have come forward in recent years, alleging that injuries such as organ perforation, painful intercourse, dangerous infections and scarring are all the result of having received one of these implants. The product liability lawyers of The Sanders Firm understand how debilitating these effects have been for so many and are committed to fighting in any venue, anywhere in the country in order to secure justice.
To date, multiple manufacturers have ceased sales and production of certain mesh products alleged to be dangerous, including four distinct Gynecare mesh products from Ethicon/Johnson & Johnson and the Avaulta Plus system from C.R. Bard. Even with adverse event reports approaching 4,000 in number and increasing calls for action by consumer protection groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to issue a formal product recall.
So far, the agency has only voiced questions as to the safety and usefulness of these devices in the treatment of stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse and discussed the risk of serious complications they appear to pose.
Vaginal mesh injuries prompt thousands of lawsuits
In this context, thousands of women who have suffered as a result of mesh products have initiated litigation in order to secure compensation for things such as:
- Lost income
- Medical expenses, now and in the future
- Emotional distress
- Physical pain
- Damage to marital relationships
There has not been a transvaginal mesh class action lawsuit filed to date, but several different device manufacturers including American Medical Systems, C.R. Bard, Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific have been confronted with thousands of vaginal mesh lawsuits, many of which have been coordinated as consolidated litigation.
As seasoned personal injury lawyers, The Sanders Firm has established a reputation as aggressive advocates for the rights of victims, whether they choose to file their actions in state or federal court.
Different categories of litigation
Anyone contemplating a lawsuit against a transvaginal mesh manufacturer has the option of choosing from a number of potential venues. The Sanders Firm will listen to the facts of a case, gain and understanding of the plaintiff’s specific circumstances and recommend a course of action designed to be as efficient and cost effective as possible and one that is most likely to produce an acceptable settlement or jury verdict.
A transvaginal mesh lawsuit can be brought by an individual plaintiff or by several plaintiffs combined into one action. Depending on the jurisdiction selected, such claims stand a chance of eventually being consolidated. Multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings are established following a motion made by plaintiffs to a judicial panel in federal court. If granted, all similar cases against a common defendant will be grouped together in a single federal court location.
Mass-torts or multi-county litigations are very similar, in that they work to centralize similar cases against common defendants, with the only difference being that the proceedings are in state court rather than federal. Class actions can be filed in federal or state court, and are initiated by a large group of similarly situated plaintiffs against the same defendant.
Coordinated pelvic mesh litigation
Transvaginal mesh cases have proceeded along several distinct lines, which include:
- Individual complaints – These are product liability lawsuits based on allegations that a medical device was defective, and are filed in either state or federal courts.
- Multidistrict litigation (MDL) – In these consolidations, civil cases are transferred from jurisdictions around the country to a single district court in an attempt to achieve certain pre-trial efficiencies. All transferred cases must be marked by common fact questions, and they will be overseen by a designated federal judge. The aim of such consolidation is to preserve judicial resources, eliminate redundancies in the fact-finding process and prevent inconsistencies in rulings. An MDL permits for “tag-along” cases to be added to the litigation at later points in time. A judge in an MDL has the ability to dismiss certain counts in any transvaginal mesh lawsuit, but if a case is not dismissed or a settlement is not reached, it can be remanded to its court of origin for trial.
- Multi-county litigation (MCL) – This type of litigation does not differ significantly in purpose or intent from a federal MDL, it simply occurs at the state level. Common complaints against the same defendants are grouped together to achieve judicial efficiency, streamlined proceedings and consistent rulings. A given judge will oversee the cases and can dismiss claims as appropriate. Just as in a federal MDL, representative “bellwether” cases will be scheduled as a means to asses how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony likely to be common in the remaining trials. This tends to facilitate settlement discussions and promote expedited resolution of numerous cases.
- Class action lawsuits – This type of litigation permits multiple plaintiffs to band together and make the same allegations against a common defendant. A lead plaintiff or class representative will stand in the place of all members of the group, and any jury award or settlement amount will be divided among the full class. A class action is not customarily pursued in medical device injury cases, given the unique and personal nature of the injuries often alleged. Class action litigation is beneficial to certain plaintiffs, because it can be less expensive in the short term, but the eventual damage awards tend to be much smaller than they might otherwise have been, particularly when the plaintiff class is large.
The Sanders Firm attorneys have been involved in every type of litigation described, and have built an impressive record of achieving substantial settlements and jury awards for injured plaintiffs across the country. Our network of medical experts, researchers, investigators and support staff enable us to successfully do battle with some of the largest medical device manufacturers in the world.
Current state of transvaginal mesh lawsuits
To date, 8 multidistrict litigations have been established to handle tens of thousands of lawsuits against multiple vaginal mesh manufacturers, and seven of them are taking place in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia under the oversight of Judge Joseph R. Goodwin:
- MDL No. 2325 American Medical Systems (AMS), Inc.
- MDL No. 2187 C.R. Bard, Inc.
- MDL No. 2326 Boston Scientific, Inc.
- MDL No. 2327 Ethicon, Inc.
- MDL No. 2387 Coloplast Corporation
- MDL No. 2440 Cook Medical, Inc.
- MDL No. 2511 Neomedic
The eighth multidistrict litigation involves the ObTape vaginal sling manufactured by Mentor Corporation, and is centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, under the auspices of Judge Clay D. Land.
Transvaginal mesh litigation has also been consolidated in the state of New Jersey for cases involving C.R. Bard and Ethicon/J & J.
Cases have been proceeding with many having already reached trial:
- In 2012, a California plaintiff in state court received a $5.5 million award in a suit against C.R. Bard pertaining to its Avaulta Plus system.
- In early 2014, a New Jersey state court awarded an injured plaintiff $11.1 million in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon
- April of 2014 witnessed an award of $1.2 million handed down by a Texas jury in a case against Johnson & Johnson for harm done by its Gynecare Prolift products.
Trajectory of transvaginal mesh litigation
With multiple bellwether trials approaching through the spring and summer of 2014, the direction of settlement discussions is likely to start taking shape. Media reports have suggested that no less than five mesh device manufacturers are seriously investigating the possibility of reaching large-scale settlements in MDLs as well as with state court plaintiffs. Observers have suggested that the aggregate dollar amounts of settlements in transvaginal mesh cases could reach into the billions.
How The Sanders Firm can help
At The Sanders Firm, we understand the life-changing, debilitating nature of the injuries far too many women have sustained as a result of their mesh implants. While it is impossible to turn back the clock and return your life to what it was pre-surgery, we can help you pursue the financial compensation necessary to truly begin the healing process.
If you have been harmed by any one of the products now widely known to cause severe complications, we invite you to call our transvaginal mesh lawyers at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY for a confidential, no-cost initial consultation.
- Public Citizen, Surgical Mesh in Pelvic Repair Procedures Should Be Recalled, Public Citizen Tells FDA, http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/pressroomdirect.cfm?ID=3405
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA Safety Communication: UDPATE on Serious Complications Associated with Transvaginal Placement of Surgical Mesh for Pelvic Organ Prolapse, http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/ucm262435.htm
- NJ.com, Jury says Johnson & Johnson must pay $1.2M over defective vaginal-mesh implant, http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2014/04/post_285.html
- United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, MDL 2327 Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, http://www.wvsd.uscourts.gov/MDL/ethicon