February 7, 2012 ~ Breaking News! Within the hour the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) ruled that three pending and separate MDL actions against three synthetic mesh manufacturers should be heard in the Southern District of West Virginia.
The MDL claim 2187 is being heard by Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the Southern Federal District of West Virginia. Earlier this year, a series of lawsuits against several top surgical mesh makers and distributors were combined and now three other cases, MDL 2325, 2326 and 2327, will be consolidated with MDL 2187, so Judge Goodwin will now be handling the bulk of transvaginal mesh lawsuits in the nation.
Altogether Judge Goodwin will hear 82 pending lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country against American Medical Systems, 22 cases against Boston Scientific Corp., as well as 36 actions against Ethicon, Inc.
Judge Goodwin’s court already oversees lawsuits filed against C.R. Bard from Avaulta mesh injuries. The plaintiff attorneys argued in Miami on January 26, that claims by the injured women are substantially similar and Judge Goodwin is familiar with the Bard Avaulta mesh injuries and will understand how to handle claims where multiple mesh devices from different manufacturers were used on the same female patient.
Attorney Henry Garrard,managing partner of the Georgia law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., is the plaintiff’s lead counsel in the Avaulta MDL. He along with other law firms, filed motions last November seeking the transfer of the cases to the Southern District of West Virginia. Garrard also argued for the transfer before the judicial panel in Miami on January 26.
“We argued, and the panel agreed, that centralization of these cases was appropriate because they share factual issues arising from what we believe are similar defects in these pelvic mesh products,” Garrard said.
“Our law firm looks forward to working with other law firms from across the country in moving ahead with these cases and pursuing relief for the women and families that have been harmed by transvaginal mesh products,” Garrard said.
Jonathan Orent of Motley Rice tells MDND its a fair result.
“We’ll know what the ground rules are so there will be consistency of application of the law and an even playing field. I’m optimistic this will cut down on years of litigation,” he said.
The women all claim injuries following surgery with synthetic transvaginal mesh which range from intense pain, disability, mesh erosion and shrinkage, nerve damage, and infection, among other injuries.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 4,000 reports of injuries to women who received the permanent synthetic mesh implants by the manufacturers to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
An MDL is a special procedure in which noncriminal cases are consolidated into one court. An MDL is different from a class action lawsuit in that the MDL allows those injured to file individual product liability lawsuits while at the same time the plaintiffs share discovery and experts and benefit from a uniform set of rules and rulings.
The consolidation of cases cuts down on the cost of bringing an action forward for each individual plaintiff. One judge oversees discovery and rules and procedures while the cost of duplicating documents for thousands of plaintiffs is reduced making litigation more cost and time effective.
There must be common questions of facts pending in federal courts around the country. #