A West Virginia judge was frank last week in telling parties involved in thousands of transvaginal mesh lawsuit claims that they need to get to work in getting the cases resolved, since it would take years to try all of the ones now pending in federal court, Reuters.com reports.
According to a court update on February 5th, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin told plaintiffs, defendants and attorneys for both sides that he planned to “kick it into high gear” in working towards a settlement that could cross out thousands of claims involving transvaginal mesh, and expects them to do the same. The judge is currently presiding over at least 70,000 lawsuits now filed in the Southern District of West Virginia, where seven separate multidistrict litigations are underway. These proceedings have been established for claims involving mesh products from C.R. Bard Inc., Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, American Medical Systems and Boston Scientific Corp., among other companies.
It would take decades for all of these cases to go to trial, the judge said, not to mention cost thousands of dollars in legal fees and leave damage awards in the hands of unpredictable juries. This conversation was part of a two-day meeting held in the Southern District of West Virginia, where he addressed individuals in cases involving the above manufacturers. According to Reuters.com, the most cases have been filed against C.R. Bard, Ethicon and Boston Scientific, some of which have already gone to trial.
The companies have reached no mesh settlements however, unlike American Medical Systems, who agreed in 2014 to reserve $1.6 billion as a means of resolving 20,000 lawsuits.
Plaintiffs involved in all seven multidistrict litigations allege mesh erosion, chronic pain, pain during sexual intercourse and other problems allegedly cause by implants they received for pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence. These women accuse manufacturers of failing to adequately warn about side effects that may stem from use of their products, which may result in permanent organ damage.
In addition to lawsuits filed in West Virginia federal court, transaginal mesh cases against C.R. Bard and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit have also been consolidated at the state level in two separate proceedings underway in New Jersey’s Bergen County Superior Court.