judge mallet 200Mesh News Desk, February 6, 2015 ~ “This is the rocky path,” Judge Joseph Goodwin forecast to a full courtroom Thursday and Friday, if there are not settlements forthcoming among the 72,000 pelvic mesh cases consolidated in his Charleston, West Virginia federal courtroom.

The federal judge wants faster action in bringing the thousands of product liability lawsuits to resolution and said “I’m going to kick it into high gear and ask that you do the same,” reports Reuters. 

Judge Joseph Goodwin

Judge Joseph Goodwin

In attendance were lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendant mesh manufacturers, executives, risk managers and settlement teams who had been called to a mandatory gathering of both sides involved in pelvic mesh litigation. Knowing there is no way the courts can possibly try every single lawsuit filed, Judge Goodwin promised cases will be set for trial, there will be no delays, no excuses and there will be an increased number of resolutions.

Judge Goodwin has received support from the Fourth Circuit which has assigned him three additional law clerks so they can keep up with the fast-tracked paperwork.   The rulings will be fair and the deadlines will be firm, he promises.  Lawyers from both sides will need to manage their conflicts.

So far defendant companies- Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), Boston Scientific and C.R. Bard have faced millions in losses at trial, most recently a $73 million verdict for a woman implanted with a pelvic mesh made by Boston Scientific. The women claim permanent pelvic injuries from defectively designed mesh implants used to reinforce pelvic organs.

The corporations still claim their devices are safe and effective even as they quietly remove them from market (Prolift, Pinnacle) and secretly settle cases.

Reuters reports lawyers for three companies said they are ready to prepare hundreds of cases for trial.

Representatives from each defendant corporation reported their progress to Judge Goodwin. Held up as an example is American Medical Systems, purchased by Endo International, which has set aside up to $1.6 billion to settle 20,000 pelvic mesh lawsuits.

Danish company Coloplast A/S has also settled a substantial chunk of the nearly 2,000 mesh lawsuits it is facing. Cook Medical says it is ready to go to trial over its cases.

Judge Goodwin warned that each side needs to face reality and put aside their preconceived thoughts. Multimillion dollar settlements are unlikely and both sides will experience losses, reports one court watcher.

Cases will be consolidated according to liability and/or damages and you can expect to see multiple plaintiffs in one courtroom as happened last November in two trials – one federal case in Miami and another one in Charleston. Plaintiffs were successful in both trials. Four plaintiffs implanted with the Boston Scientific Pinnacle mesh were awarded $26.7 million  while $18.5 million went to four women injured by the Boston Scientific Obtryx mesh .

After court Thursday, there was a mandated social gathering paid by each side inside the courthouse and attended by about 100. The purpose was transparent- get both sides talking and for about two hours that is what they did.

By Friday, Judge Goodwin had representatives from each MDL meeting privately in his chambers including lawyers, executives and risk managers. #