The federal judge overseeing thousands of lawsuits involving Atrium Medical Corp’s C-Qur hernia mesh products has been asked to postpone an upcoming bellwether trial in light of the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
About 2,000 personal injury claims involving Atrium C-Qur mesh are pending in a multidistrict litigation now underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Hampshire. The proceeding’s first bellwether trial is scheduled to begin in September 2020, and as a test case could provide insight into how other juries might rule in similar hernia mesh lawsuits.
Attorneys for plaintiffs and defendants have apparently been discussing trial postponements in response to the COVID-19 crisis, as courts in New Hampshire and across the country have been forced to cancel in-person proceedings during the nationwide lockdown. Unfortunately, it appears they’ve been unable to agree on a date for the first Atrium-Qur hernia mesh trial.
In a Motion filed with the Court on April 8th, lawyers for Atrium Medical propose that the first bellwether trial be delayed until January 2021 and all other pretrial deadlines extended for 90 days.
“As the Court is well aware, travel is restricted throughout the country, much of the country is under government lock-down orders, and Defendants’ experts and attorneys are located in parts of the country especially hard hit by COVID-19 and under severe restrictions on movement outside of the home, including for work,” the Motion states. “Defendants’ attorneys are located in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California, all of which are under mandatory government stay-at-home orders.”
Atrium Medical has also asked the Court to expedite consideration of the Motion, as deadlines for the for the first bellwether trial are quickly approaching.
Atrium C-Qur mesh is indicated for permanent abdominal wall reinforcement in hernia surgeries. The implants are constructed from a unique polypropylene patch that’s been coated with an Omega-3 fatty acid (O3FA) gel.
Like many other polypropylene hernia mesh products, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved the Atrium C-Qur patch in accordance with the 510K program, which allows a medical device to come to market without the benefit of clinical trials as long as a manufacturer can demonstrate that it is “substantially equivalent” to another product that’s already gone through the agency’s far more stringent pre-market approval process. This was permitted even though Atrium C-Qur was the first surgical mesh to ever utilize an O3FA gel coating.
Atrium claims the O3FA coating reduces the risk of adhesions and allows for better fixation of the hernia mesh to the abdominal wall. However, plaintiffs who have filed hernia lawsuits against the company claim that the C-Qur design actually causes an inflammatory response that promotes the formation of bowel adhesions, impedes fixation, and causes additional severe complications that may result in the need for painful and risky hernia revision surgery.