The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is set to convene a Hearing Session next month in San Antonio, Texas. Matters to be addressed include a petition to centralize all federally-filed hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh Composite Mesh product in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida.
The Hearing Session is scheduled for Thursday, May 25th. Per an Order dated April 13th, presenting attorneys must be present at 8:30 a.m. so that Oral Arguments matters can commence at 9:00 a.m.
At least 18 Physiomesh lawsuits are currently pending in nine U.S. District Courts: six in the Middle District of Florida; two each in the Northern District of Florida and District of Colorado; and 1 each in the Southern District of Illinois, Middle District of Georgia, District of Massachusetts, District of South Carolina, Northern District of Oklahoma and District of New Jersey all of which were filed on behalf of plaintiffs who say they suffered adhesions, perforations, infections, mesh erosion and other debilitating complications due to the product’s allegedly defective design.
In a Motion for Transfer filed with the JPML in March, plaintiffs predicted that hundreds of similar claims would be filed against Ethicon in the near future, and argued that centralization in a single U.S. District Court would allow the cases to proceed more efficiently through the system. However, Ethicon is against centralization, asserting that the lawsuits are too individualized to warrant the creation of a multidistrict litigation.
Ethicon announced a worldwide market withdrawal of Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh in May 2016, after unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested that the product was associated with higher average recurrence and revision rates compared to other meshes used in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair. The company was unable to determine the cause of this issue but noted that it could be due to product characteristics, as well as operative and patient factors.
While Ethicon’s action was never officially declared a recall in the U.S., hospitals were asked to return any unused Physiomesh patches included in the market withdrawal. The company indicated that it would not seek to return the affected products to the market.