The federal court overseeing thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh products has set a tentative date for the litigation’s first bellwether trial.
More than 2,360 Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits are currently undergoing coordinated pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia.
All of the cases were filed on behalf of hernia patients who suffered bowel obstructions, infections, hernia recurrence, and other dangerous complications, allegedly due to the defective nature of Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh implants. The proceeding’s bellwether trials are intended to serve as test cases and could provide insight into how other juries might decide similar Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits.
The Court had previously announced that the first Physiomesh bellwether trial would get underway sometime in April 2020. However, according an Order dated September 23rd, the first trial is now scheduled to begin on June 22, 2020. The Court will decide manner of trial, the order of selection for bellwether plaintiffs, and the timing of additional trial cases by January 27, 2020.
Dispositive or Daubert motions are to be filed in each of the Trial Cases by February 24, 2020. Responses must be submitted no later than March 16, 2020, with replies due by March 30, 2020.
Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh products are indicated for use in abdominal hernia repair. They feature a unique, multi-layer design made from a non-absorbable polypropylene netting sandwiched and laminated between two layers of Monocryl (poliglecaprone). Ethicon asserts that this design and these materials facilitate incorporation of the mesh into a patient’s body, minimize inflammation and adhesions, and result in faster healing after surgery.
In March 2016, however, the company withdrew Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh implants from the global market after unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested the products were associated with high rates of recurrence and revision when used in laparoscopic hernia repair. Ethicon was unable to determine the cause of the problems and indicated that the withdrawn hernia mesh would not be returning to the market.
While the action was characterized as a hernia mesh recall overseas, Ethicon maintains that a Physiomesh recall was not actually initiated in the United States.
Plaintiffs pursuing Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits claim that the polypropylene used to construct the implants is incompatible with human tissue and can actually prevent the device from being absorbed into the body. Rather than promote healing, Physiomesh allegedly triggered an inflammatory reaction that ultimately caused severe complications and resulted in the need for hernia revision surgery.
Plaintiffs further claim that Ethicon failed to adequately test Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh prior to bringing the products to market, misrepresented their safety and effectiveness, and failed to warn doctors and patients about potential risks.