A well-respected and experienced federal judge has urged C.R. Bard Inc. to settle thousands of lawsuits over defective vaginal-mesh implants. The warning came because juries may award billions of dollars in damages after hearing evidence relating to the company’s conduct. U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, W.Va., said during a Dec. 9 hearing:
I can’t imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of dollars in verdicts wouldn’t find it advisable to try to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum. I base that billions of dollars business on some of the rather large verdicts that we’ve had.
Judge Goodwin said that the multimillion-dollar verdicts returned against Bard and other makers of the implants, used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress incontinence in women, should provide an incentive to settle more than 12,000 cases against the company by next year. Based on what we have learned during the litigation, the judge’s warning to executives at Bard that they are gambling with the future of their company by not settling the litigation should be taken seriously.
As we have previously reported, Judge Goodman is overseeing all federal-court litigation involving the implants. The company agreed in October to settle 500 suits for about $21 million in its first large-scale settlement of vaginal-mesh cases. Bard has acknowledged in filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it faces significant financial exposure over the vaginal-mesh claims.
More than 12,400 suits over the medical devices have been filed in both state and federal courts, Bard acknowledged in a July regulatory filing. Endo International Plc, a Dublin-based maker of vaginal-mesh devices, has agreed to pay more than $1.3 billion to resolve most of the more than 30,000 suits over its implants.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered Bard, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific Corp and other vaginal-mesh makers to study rates of complications linked to the devices after thousands of women sued over the implants. The agency also has said implants should be subject to stricter safety requirements. We can say without reservation that what Bard and the other companies have done to innocent women is despicable and they must all be held accountable.
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