Lead Attorneys to be Chosen in Transvaginal Mesh Cases Friday, April 13

Jane Akre
April 13, 2012

The Honorable Judge Joseph Goodwin

The Honorable Judge Joseph Goodwin will oversee a hearing Friday, April 13, to decide who will be the lead attorneys in the consolidated lawsuits over defective transvaginal mesh. Hundreds of cases have been consolidated in the Southern District of West Virginia in Multidistrict litigation (MDL) that name mesh manufacturers Ethicon, Inc ( MDL No. 2327), American Medical Systems, Inc. (MDL No. 2325), and Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL No. 2326).

Here is the court calendar for April 13.

What is Multidistrict Litigation?

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) means cases filed around the country in diverse federal courts are consolidated in one court for the ease and consistency of pretrial motions, discovery and rulings. Imagine the logistical nightmare if a federal judge in San Francisco made a ruling in a transvaginal mesh case, for example, that was totally at odds to a ruling in Memphis?

The plaintiffs can all share the discovery instead of launching individual efforts. When the cases are ready for trial they can be remanded back to their original forums if there is not a settlement, which is the usual outcome.

In the case of hundreds of transvaginal mesh cases, in January the cases were consolidated before the Honorable Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia with the issue of lead attorneys to be heard Friday, April 13.

Judge Goodwin will empower an attorneys or small number of attorneys to be the “lead lawyers” and manage the plaintiffs’ side. This puts the remainder of the attorneys in a secondary position and less likely to be able to act for their clients.

According to the Fordham Law Review from November 7, 2011, (here) the “Lead Lawyers” will control the litigation and can make decisions concerning the first or “bellwether” trials with little input from their clients. The lead law firm or attorney is not allowed to put his or her own financial interests ahead of the client and may not engage in self-enriching behavior. The client must be treated fairly and Judge Goodwin will further elaborate on the fiduciary responsibilities of the lead lawyers. In the Vioxx litigation, “disabled” or non-lead lawyers submitted objections to the fee structure they said benefited the lead attorneys.

This MDL involves lawsuits filed in federal courts across the country by women who claim to have suffered injuries after being implanted with vaginal mesh products for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and / or stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said in a July 2011 Safety Communication, that it had received 2,874 reports of complications associated with transvaginal mesh devices used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence between 2008 and 2010 – a five fold increase in complications which include pain, bleeding, erosion through the vaginal wall, mesh shrinkage, infection, and nerve entrapment, among other problems.

Since 2010, Judge Goodwin has also been overseeing the MDL against another transvaginal mesh manufacturer, C.R. Bard, Inc. (In re Avaulta Pelvic Support Systems Product Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2187), where Henry Garrard is the lead counsel (MDL No. 2187). #

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