The Pennsylvania judge overseeing dozens of transvaginal mesh lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas will allow plaintiffs to conduct limited depositions of a corporate designee and the strategic sourcing manager for Ethicon, Inc.
Ethicon is facing more than 100 lawsuits in Philadelphia, all of which were filed on behalf of women who say they suffered serious complications due to the company’s allegedly defective transvaginal mesh products.
On October 13th, Judge Arnold New granted Ethicon’s motion for a protective order blocking additional depositions focusing on its relationship with a materials supplier.
But according to The Legal Intelligencer, he also ruled that plaintiffs could conduct two depositions related to a jurisdictional dispute that was ignited due to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. That ruling limited plaintiffs to filing suit in jurisdictions where defendants are headquartered or where their injuries are alleged to have occurred.
Ethicon has argued that the High Court’s ruling means that 90 pelvic mesh lawsuits filed by out-of-state plaintiffs must be dismissed from the Pennsylvania mass tort program.
Plaintiffs countered by pointing out that Ethicon obtained plastic mesh materials used in its implants from Secant, a biomaterials supplier based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Transvaginal mesh devices are intended to treat women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. However, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that such devices may cause serious and life changing complications, including mesh erosion, perforation, scarring and adhesions, chronic pain, infections, and organ damage.
The agency has also warned that complications associated with transvaginal mesh prolapse repair were not rare and expressed concerns that the risks associated with such procedures may not outweigh their benefits.
Four Pennsylvania juries have so far awarded Ethicon transvaginal mesh plaintiffs damages of $2.16 million, $12.5 million, $13.5 million and $20 million. While one jury did rule in favor of Ethicon, the judge overseeing the case recently granted the plaintiff a new damages hearing after finding that the verdict was inconsistent with the evidence.
More than 54,000 women are currently pursuing pelvic mesh lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon in courts nationwide. Tens of thousands of additional cases have been filed against Boston Scientific Corp., C.R. Bard, Inc., and other device makers.
Trials in other jurisdictions have produced verdicts for both plaintiffs and defendants. A significant number of cases have also been settled.