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Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Consolidated and Moving Forward

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Transvaginal mesh is a medical device implanted in women to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Some women who underwent surgery to treat POP & SUI with vaginal mesh are suffering from severe and debilitating complications such as pelvic pain, infections, bleeding, and migration of the mesh within the body causing the need for repeat surgeries.

As we have noted before, in 2008, the FDA issued a Public Health Notification stating that the issues with the use of synthetic vaginal mesh was a growing concern, and as recently as last month the FDA ordered 33 manufacturers of vaginal mesh devices to conduct post-market safety studies on their products. The FDA ordered the additional safety studies in response to growing concerns about the safety of transvaginal mesh.

On February 7, 2012 the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict litigation (JPML) issued an order consolidating 3 vaginal mesh multidistrict litigations into a single proceeding to be heard in the Southern District of West Virginia. The order consolidated MDL’s against three manufacturers – Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL No. 2326), American Medical Systems (MDL No. 2325), and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon (MDL No. 2327); all of whom manufacture a number of different kinds of vaginal mesh that tend to produce similar injuries and complications.

Multidistrict litigation is an option that provides efficiency in litigation when handling numerous lawsuits by different plaintiffs against a defendant or group of defendants in various districts. Unlike class actions, MDL’s allow for plaintiff’s to maintain their individual causes of action while consolidating pretrial disclosures and eliminating inconsistent pretrial rulings by multiple judges. In consolidating the above mentioned MDL’s the JPML noted their decision “conserves the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”

The JPML further reasoned the consolidation was proper because “actions in each MDL share factual issues arising from allegations of defects in pelvic surgical mesh products manufactured by AMS, Boston Scientific, and Ethicon, respectively”…“a number of these actions are brought by plaintiffs who were implanted with multiple products made by multiple manufacturers. Centralization of the three MDLs in one court will allow for coordination of any overlapping issues of fact in such multi-product, multi-defendant actions.”

The newly consolidated MDL will take place before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, who is familiar with vaginal mesh MDL’s because he is currently presiding over a similar action against C.R. Bard that was established in 2010.