Thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon, Inc.’s Physiomesh Composite Flexible mesh continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, where the first bellwether trial is now scheduled to get underway this coming November.
There are nearly 2,800 Physiomesh lawsuits pending the Northern District of Georgia. The litigation was set to begin trying bellwether cases in June, but all in-person proceedings were recently placed on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
According to an amended Case Management Order dated May 19th, expert discovery for the four hernia mesh lawsuits designated as trial cases is now to be completed by July 15th. The same day, the parties will select two of the four cases for the first two bellwether trials.
Once motions practice for the first bellwether trial concludes, the parties are to submit a Joint Pretrial Order to the Court by October 15th. A pretrial conference will be convened on October 27th at 10:00 a.m., while the first bellwether trial will be convened on November 2, 2020. The trial is expected to last between 2 and 3 weeks.
The second bellwether trial will begin on February 22, 2021 and will also last between 2 and 3 weeks. At some point in the future, the Court will issue an Order establishing all remaining deadlines for that trial.
Finally, the Court has elected to consolidate the remaining two Physiomesh lawsuits for the litigation’s third bellwether trial. That trial will be convened on May 10, 2021, and will last between 3 and 4 weeks. The Court will set a time for the parties to be heard on the makeup of the consolidation and issue a scheduling order as the date for the third trial nears.
Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh products are indicated for use in abdominal hernia repair and feature a unique, multi-layer design made from a non-absorbable polypropylene netting sandwiched and laminated between two layers of Monocryl (poliglecaprone). Ethicon asserts this design facilitates incorporation of the mesh, minimizes inflammation and adhesions, and results in faster healing after surgery. But Physiomesh lawsuit plaintiffs claim the polypropylene netting is biologically incompatible with human tissue and can trigger an inflammatory reaction that increases the risk of complications, as well as the need for future revision surgery.
In March 2016, Ethicon withdrew Physiomesh Flexible Composite mesh implants from the global market after unpublished data from two European hernia registries suggested the products were associated with high rates of recurrence and revision when used in laparoscopic hernia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.