October 10, 2013By: Ava Lawson
Bloomberg reports that several pelvic mesh manufacturers including C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific and Endo Health Solutions may be entering behind-the-scenes talks with plaintiffs in an effort to negotiate transvaginal mesh settlements. Insiders who are familiar with the ongoing vaginal mesh litigation told the news source that plaintiffs are hoping U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, who is presiding over the federal suits, will appoint a settlement committee that would include legal counsel for both parties, including an attorney who facilitated a monstrous $246 billion tobacco-litigation settlement on behalf of state attorneys general.
The federal judge who is overseeing all pelvic mesh injury lawsuits consolidated in multidistrict litigations in West Virginia district court noted that vaginal mesh lawsuit settlement talks are taking place behind closed doors at the moment, and may also include defendants Cook Medical and Cotoplast, though this information has not been confirmed.
Possible transvaginal mesh settlements in the works
While the federal products liability litigation concerning serious and often debilitating transvaginal mesh complications has swelled to include more than 25,000 cases against six different manufacturers, many suspect that claims could easily exceed 50,000 in the coming months. Any settlement agreement would take into account a plaintiff’s medical expenses related to her injuries or mesh revision surgery, and would attempt to compensate for damages including lost wages, physical and emotional trauma, and loss of spousal consortium.
Carl Tobias, a teacher of products liability law at University of Richmond, VA told Bloomberg, “The liability seems pretty clear on these cases, so settlement makes sense.” Meanwhile, spokespersons for Boston Scientific, Cook Medical, Bard and others have declined to comment on any pending transvaginal mesh lawsuit settlements.
At present, there are six separate transvaginal mesh MDLs, all involving various types of mesh implants, surgical slings and patches. Though the devices are designed and manufactured by different companies, many of the allegations made by plaintiffs are similar in nature. Women who’ve filed a vaginal mesh lawsuit claim they’ve suffered chronic infections, painful sexual intercourse, mesh erosion, internal organ damage and other complications caused by faulty design or materials that were incompatible with human tissue.
Vaginal mesh lawsuit trial losses
Bard stopped selling its Avaulta pelvic mesh implants last year after the FDA ordered that all mesh manufacturers conduct additional studies on the safety and efficacy of its products. Bard has also negotiated settlements with some cases after jurors handed down two verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs.
In an Avaulta mesh lawsuit last year, a California state jury awarded a woman $5.5 million in compensatory damages for her injuries, of which Bard was liable for $3.6 million under California law. Under the guidance of Judge Goodwin, the first federal case against Bard was heard this past month. The Charleston, West Virginia panel decided Bard was liable for a Georgia woman’s organ damage and rendered a $2 million verdict for the plaintiff.
If Goodwin appoints a settlement committee, thousands of injured plaintiffs may finally achieve resolution of their claims and secure just compensation for their pain, suffering and other losses. However, the mesh litigation poses a challenge for potential settlement negotiators since they are faced with suits involving more than 50 different products (some of which have already been pulled off the market) made by several companies.