There are currently approximately 70,000 individual transvaginal mesh cases consolidated before Judge Joseph Goodwin in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The cases are part of Multidistrict litigation (MDL) as ordered by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. Multidistrict litigation is a consolidation of civil cases transferred from different jurisdictions around the country to a single United States District Court to achieve certain pre-trial efficiencies. The aim of this consolidation is to preserve judicial resources, eliminate duplicities in the fact-finding process, and prevent inconsistencies in pre-trial rulings.
Judge Goodwin currently presides over seven MDLs against various transvaginal mesh manufacturers. The MDL set up for Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon brand has the largest number of pending claims – approximately 22,000 as of Feb. 4. In addition to the numerous claims before Judge Goodwin in the MDL, Ethicon also faces consolidated claims pending in New Jersey state court as well as claims in various state court venues across the country.
Frustrated with the slow pace of litigation in the Ethicon MDL, Judge Goodwin entered a pretrial order on Aug. 19, 2015, directing Johnson & Johnson to begin case-specific discovery for the oldest 200 cases naming Ethicon and/or Johnson & Johnson as the Defendant. Specifically, the order mandates that individual discovery for each of the 200 cases be completed. Since that time, Judge Goodwin has entered pretrial orders directing case-specific discovery to move forward in two additional groups of 200 cases, making a total of 600 cases since August 2015.
At the conclusion of pre-trial proceedings, the Court will transfer each case that was directly filed to a federal district court of proper venue. Cases that were transferred to the Southern District of West Virginia by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will be remanded for further proceedings to the federal district court from which each such case was initially transferred.
In December, a Philadelphia state court jury ordered awarded Plaintiff Patricia Hammons $12.5 million following a trial against defendant-manufacturer Ethicon. The verdict consisted of $5.5 million in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages. Ms. Hammons was implanted with Ethicon’s Prolift mesh product in 2009 to treat pelvic organ prolapse. Despite undergoing multiple corrective surgeries due to complications caused by the products, Ms. Hammons, a Wal-Mart stocker from Indiana, continues to suffer problems. During the trial, a product Engineer for Ethicon said the company had never given any thought to how the mesh would be removed if it failed. In earlier testimony, a Plaintiff’s expert described such procedures as exceedingly difficult and tantamount to a surgical “train wreck.”
Law firms across the country, including Beasley Allen, continue to press forward in an effort to resolve transvaginal mesh cases Ethicon as well as other defendant-manufacturers. For more information, contact, Leigh O’Dell, Chad Cook, or Beau Darley, lawyers in our firm, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Leigh.Odell@beasleyallen.com, Chad.Cook@beasleyallen.com or Beau.Darley@beaselyallen.com.
Sources: PR Newswire, Pretrial Order #192 (Docket Control Order – Wave 1 Cases), In re: Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair System Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2327 (S.D.W.Va. August 19, 2015). Pretrial Order #206 (Docket Control Order – Wave 2 Cases), In re: Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair System Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2327 (S.D.W.Va. November 20, 2015). Pretrial Order #210 (Docket Control Order – Wave 3 Cases), In re: Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair System Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2327 (S.D.W.Va. December 18, 2015). and philly.com
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