The federal court overseeing hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh products has extended discovery deadlines for the multidistrict litigation’s potential bellwether trial cases by 75 days.
The extension was announced in an Order issued by the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia on September 11th.
Previously, the Court had directed that the Physiomesh litigation’s Initial Discovery Pool would be whittled down to 20 representative cases by December 1, 2019. However, the extension granted in the September 11th Order means that won’t occur until mid-February 2019.
The parties must now submit proposals regarding the manner of trial, order of selection of plaintiffs and specific timing of trials by the middle of next July.
As a result of the extension, Physiomesh bellwether trials will be delayed until the end of 2019 or early 2020.
There are currently more than 1,400 Physiomesh lawsuits pending in the Northern District of Georgia.
All of the claims were filed on behalf of individuals who suffered hernia recurrence and other serious complications allegedly due to the defective nature of Ethicon’s multi-layer polypropylene implants.
While Ethicon promises that its unique Physiomesh configuration will prevents or minimize adhesion and inflammation and facilitate incorporation of the mesh into the body, plaintiffs claim that the design actually prevents incorporation and increases the risk that patients will experience serious and painful complications that may result in the need for hernia revision surgery.
The federal litigation’s bellwether trials are intended to test the strength of plaintiffs’ claims. Verdicts in these cases could provide insight into how other juries might rule in similar Ethicon hernia mesh lawsuits.
Ethicon withdrew Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh implants from the market in May 2016, after unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested that the hernia patches were associated with higher average recurrence and revision rates compared to other meshes used in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.
Ethicon has indicated that it will not be returning the devices to the market, as it was unable to determine the cause of these issues.
Though the action was never designated an official hernia mesh recall in the U.S., the company asked hospitals and healthcare providers to return any affected Physiomesh devices that remained in their stock.