Transvaginal Mesh Settlement Talks May be Underway
Although unsubstantiated at this time, C.R. Bard and the makers of transvaginal mesh are said to be in settlement talks with lawyers representing 50,000 plaintiffs. This according to Bloomberg but not confirmed by any of the companies involved.
The last two lawsuits naming C.R. Bard filed in federal court both settled before the facts went before a jury. Both of those amounts were undisclosed. They were part of the bellwether cases consolidated in Charleston West Virginia before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.
Bellwether cases test legal theories in front of a jury and lay the groundwork for potential settlement talks.
Bloomberg cites “people familiar with the matter” to report that lawyers for Endo Health Solutions Inc, Boston Scientific, Bard, Cook Medical and Coloplast – all makers of transvaginal mesh, a plastic medical device inserted in a woman’s pelvis to keep organs in place- are involved in the talks. Interestingly, Johnson & Johnson is not reported to be involved in any discussions.
J&J is facing the largest number of product liability lawsuits filed over its Prolift and Gynecare line of transvaginal meshes.
Behind the Scenes
Judge Goodwin has reportedly been asked to appoint a settlement committee that would include attorneys Henry Garrard and Joe Rice. Garrard has been lead counsel on Bard cases. Rice helped negotiate the $246 billion tobacco settlement and the $9.6 billion BP Oil settlement resulting from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
During a September 18 court hearing, Judge Goodwin said that talks were underway “behind the scenes.” Bloomberg reports that Ellen Reisman, a Los Angeles-based lawyer representing BP was also at a September hearing.
MDND has recently received two inquiries from investment firms on behalf of their clients, both mesh manufacturers. The inquiries involved questions about the seriousness of injuries and whether the blame falls on device makers or implanting doctors.
Even without Ethicon, the number of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts is expected to exceed 50,000 making it one of the largest mass torts in U.S. history. Compared to the Vioxx litigation by one attorney to MDND, (here) the Vioxx settlement amounted to $4.85 billion. Vioxx was the pain reliever made by Merck & Co. that led to heart attacks and strokes and approximately 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.
The majority of women who have filed product liability lawsuits against mesh makers claim permanent and debilitating injury including nerve damage, chronic pain and an inability to resume work or sexual activities. They experience mesh erosion, infection and multiple removal surgeries. Some attempt reconstruction surgery.
Dr. Shlomo Raz, a urologist at UCLA see more mesh removal cases than anyone around the globe. He believes partial removals do not work to resolve pain. Of the 500 mesh complications he’s seen over six years, about 70% who undergo removal may find some relief while about 30% suffer permanent complications.
Very few women interviewed by MDND have had a full recovery, even after removal surgery.
Women who do not have insurance that includes UCLA may find themselves in a series of partial removals with varying success. Oftentimes a partial removal leaves a woman in worse pain suffering from additional mesh migration, pain and infection.
Bard and Boston Scientific face about 12,000 product liability lawsuits while Cook and Coloplast have about 1,000 lawsuits combined, reports Bloomberg. The Danish company, Coloplast reportedly hopes to resolve all claims by the year’s end. American Medical Systems faces 13,5000 claims approximately. Johnson & Johnson faces about the same number as of last June.
Expect legal wrangling to include dismissals based on statute of limitations, meritless claims and improperly filed claims.
Bloomberg received no comment from mesh makers.
Bloomberg, September 30, 2013 Bard Mesh Makers said to be in Settlement Talks