Ethicon Physiomesh Bellwether Trials Pushed Back Until April 2020

Published on June 26, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

The federal court overseeing thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh has altered the proceeding’s bellwether trial schedule.

Those trials were initially scheduled to begin in February 2020.

But according to an amended Pretrial and Procedure Order issued on June 20th in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, the first Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuit will now head to trial on April 20, 2020.

Bellwether Trial Pool Cases Undergoing Expert Discovery

More than 2,100 hernia lawsuits are currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia. All were filed on behalf of individuals who suffered bowel obstructions, infections, hernia recurrence, and other dangerous complications that allegedly resulted from defectively designed and manufactured Ethicon Physiomesh implants.

In May, the Court established a bellwether trial pool consisting of 10 representative Physiomesh lawsuits. Expert discovery for those cases will wrap up on December 20, 2019.

By November 20, 2019, the parties must submit a proposal for selecting the final bellwether trial cases. The Court will then issue a final order regarding the manner and timing for bellwether trials by December 13, 2019.

Verdicts in the upcoming bellwether trials could provide clues as to how juries might decide similar lawsuits involving Ethicon Physiomesh.

Ethicon Physiomesh Market Withdrawal

Ethicon designed Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh for use abdominal hernia repair. Its unique, multi-layer design features a non-absorbable polypropylene netting sandwiched and laminated between two layers of Monocryl (poliglecaprone). According to Ethicon, these materials and configuration encourage incorporation of the mesh into the body, minimize inflammation and adhesions, and facilitate faster healing.

In March 2016, however Ethicon pulled Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh implants from the global market, warning that unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested the products were associated with higher rates of complications compared to competitor hernia mesh.  The company was unable to determine the cause of the problems and indicated it would not return Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh to the market in the future.

Plaintiffs pursuing Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits claim the implants were made with polypropylene that’s incompatible with human tissue. This alleged incompatibility prevented the mesh from being absorbed into their bodies and triggered an inflammatory reaction that ultimately caused their injuries and complications.

Plaintiffs further claim that Ethicon’s failed to adequately test Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh prior to bringing it to market, misrepresented the implants’ safety and effectiveness, and failed to warn doctors and patients about potential risks.

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