The federal court overseeing hundreds of hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh implants has revised its pretrial schedule, setting the stage for the first bellwether trial to begin in December 2019.
According to an Order issued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, on October 9th, the parties are each to select 5 Physiomesh lawsuits (total of 10) for inclusion in the litigation’s Trial Pool by February 14, 2019. Cases are to be chosen from the proceeding’s Initial Discovery Pool, which was established earlier this year.
Expert depositions in all Trial Pool Cases will begin on June 14, 2019, allowing expert discovery to wrap up by August 15, 2019.
By July 15, 2019, each of the parties will submit a memorandum in support of their proposed manner of trial, order of selection of plaintiffs for trial, and timing of trials. The Court will rule on those issues no later than July 29, 2019.
The first bellwether trial will begin on December 2, 2019. A pretrial conference will be scheduled at an appropriate time.
There are more than 1,450 Physiomesh lawsuits pending the Northern District of Georgia, where all such federal claims are currently undergoing coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings before a single judge. The litigation’s bellwether trials are intended to act as test cases, and their verdicts could provide insight into how other juries might rule in similar hernia mesh lawsuits.
The products liability litigation involving Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh began to grow shortly after Ethicon announced it was withdrawing the products from the global market in March 2016. The company acted after unpublished data from two European hernia databases suggested that the implants were associated with higher average recurrence and revision rates compared to other meshes used in laparoscopic ventral hernia repair.
Ethicon’s action was never declared a hernia mesh recall in the United States, though healthcare providers were directed to return any unused implants to the company. However, Physiomesh recalls were officially announced in several other countries.
Plaintiffs who have since filed hernia mesh lawsuits against Ethicon allege that Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh is defectively designed and manufactured, increasing the likelihood that recipients will experience painful and debilitating complications, including infection, adhesions, chronic pain, and hernia recurrence. They further claim that Ethicon failed to subject Physiomesh to adequate pre-market testing and failed to provide doctors and patients with sufficient warning of its potential risks.