Mesh Litigation MDL – What Is An MDL & What Are The Benefits?

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Mesh Litigation MDL – What Is An MDL & What Are The Benefits?

Protesters, fed court Charleston WV

Many of you are asking, “how did I end up here?”, referring to the system in the courts known as Multidistrict Litigation. It’s a good question and has taken over one federal court in Charleston, West Virginia for seven years as well as the life of one federal judge, The Honorable Joseph Goodwin. Hopefully, coverage on Mesh News Desk will provide some historical context on how the MDL has handled the mesh litigation.

What is Mesh Litigation MDL?

On this page you will find a number of helpful articles from your editor concerning the MDL process and how the multidistrict litigation was formed and why. Skip straight to a story that answers your question. from the links below:

What’s Wrong with the MDL System of Conflict Resolution? Part One

Elizabeth Burch, Professor U GA Law School

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, Part One, June 27, 2017 – University of Georgia School of Law professor, Elizabeth Burch, is not a fan of multidistrict litigation or MDLs.  Burch studies mass torts, such as the Kugel mesh case, and is currently working on a book about the MDL system.

According to her research, collecting data from 72 product liability pending as of May 2013, 70 law firms had attorneys who were named to five or more leadership roles in the MDLs.  Calling them  “repeat players,” Burch writes that 16% of the involved law firms held nearly 54% of all leadership positions.

What’s created is a two-edge sword.

This is Part One, Please follow up with Part Two here.  

On one hand, high-stakes multidistrict litigation is managed by lead lawyers with trial experience who are best equipped to bring cases to settlement. On the other hand, the judges are relatively powerless to police these private settlements created by the MDL.

Professor Burch published, Judging Multidistrict Litigation in April 2015, and she talks to Mesh News Desk about her findings. This is Part One, Part two is here.

Scales of Justice, WikiCommons

Q: Akre – The MDL steering committees, you call them repeat players since the same law firms represent 63% of all mass torts. How do they get into those enviable positions?

A: ”The judge is the one who decides who will lead the litigation. There are a lot of different methods to decide. Some will say – pick your own people and bring me the consensus and the judge then confirms the slate.  The slate could be heavily populated with people who have done this before. 

“They have the pull and capital to get everyone to vote for them.

“Long before there even is an MDL they are posturing so they know the most about a particular lawsuit.”


Q: Should that be a concern for the plaintiff?

H. Garrard leaving federal court Charleston WV, July 2013

A: “On one hand repeat players have done this before.

“After litigation against JNJ (Johnson & Johnson), you have lawyers who have dealt with them on talc, strategy, hip implants, and that’s the upside. 

“The downside potentially is you have repeat players on both the defense and plaintiff side. JNJ uses the same lawyer over and over again and they deal with each other and may develop a quid pro quo relationship. 

“I don’t want to say they go into a back room, but you develop these working relationships where “You know what I need….” 

“The plaintiff lawyers negotiate to increase their common benefit fees, so every plaintiff agrees to settle also agrees to the increased fees they’ve negotiated with the defendant.

“The defendant, in return, can negotiate for things it wants.  You want finality, for example. You can have a walkaway provision, where basically it says, ‘Unless we get x percentage of the plaintiffs to agree to this, we walk away from the deal and the deal is off. ‘ That ranges from 85% to 100% of plaintiffs who must agree to the deal.  

“Some of the provisions aimed at the lawyers say you must recommend this deal to 100% of your clients.  Some plaintiffs might not be in the same boat, but by agreeing to this settlement, you’re agreeing to recommend it to everybody!

“Some other settlements say if you have a client who doesn’t want to settle you have to drop them like a hot potato. It’s unethical yet it’s done.  That’s the tit-for-tat I’m talking about.”   

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, Charleston, WV

Q: In the mesh MDL the common benefit fund is 5% and Judge Goodwin has not specified who is to fund it.  Most plaintiffs are told they must pay the 5%.  At the same time MDL lawyers are charging plaintiffs 40%. Are these costs excessive?

A: “Different states set caps on what an attorney can charge. I don’t know where 40% came from.  Thirty-three percent is typically the norm.

“With a common benefit fund, every plaintiff has to put 5% into the kitty. Some lead attorney are also forcing them to pay to package claims together. 

“If I’m in Athens, Georgia, I represent only five plaintiffs, and Bard says I will only settle if you bring me 1,000, I can’t do that.

“The lead lawyers are charging them between 25% of individual attorney fees to process claims together on top of 5% common benefit fee.

“The problem comes when I try to figure out how to best represent my client. The only way to settle is to pay $3,000 a case and I can’t go to trial then and I can’t press for a better settlement.  I have no leverage, you’re stuck in huge MDL yet you can’t do anything other than package for a small settlement.

“In theory the Plaintiff fees – if I charge you a 30% fee and lead lawyers are charging me. It should come out of the attorneys’ fees. There have been judges who have stepped in and cut individual attorney fees, for example in Vioxx, Judge Fallon and Zyprexa litigation. They’ve gone in and said your individual lawyer has not done 40% worth of work, it’s an unjust fee and I will come in and cut it.” 

Q: Is it fair to say you’re not a fan of the MDL system?

A: “I’m not a fan of how they are handled. Some judges do a better job of policing the repeat player than others. But there are systemic problems in MDLs.  One example – there was litigation on Propulsid, an earlier MDL and in my database.

“The lawyers recovered over $22 million in common benefit fees. There were over 6,000 claimants in the MDL proceeding.  The lawyers negotiated a strict process for settlement. First, a panel of doctors decide on causation.  As soon as you opt into the settlement, you don’t know if you will recover, but you’ve given up your right to sue in court.  

“Of those 6,000 plaintiffs, 38 recovered money…they recovered $6.5 million in total.  The lead lawyers made over $22 million, $8 million went to Canada’s program and $8 million to the Louisiana Public Health Initiative, since Judge Fallon is in Louisiana.

“Only $6.5 million went to the plaintiffs. The rest of the fund went back to JNJ, the defendant.  The lawyers said that was the template for all mass torts.  And they never tried to get the products off the market.”



Multidistrict Litigation – Is it Working for Transvaginal Mesh Cases? Part 2 

Judge Joseph Goodwin

Part Two – Mesh Medical Device News Desk, June 29, 2017 ~ The Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) system allows a select few law firms (about 70) to the top positions in the court structure, no matter where it is based.

An MDL is like a class action in that plaintiffs with substantially similar complaints against an allegedly defective product are consolidated in one court.

In the case of transvaginal mesh, the MDL is in Charleston West Virginia where more than 103,000 cases have been filed before Judge Joseph Goodwin.

Elizabeth Burch, U GA Law professor

According to research done by Professor Burch from the University of Georgia Law School, lawyers from these firms “repeat players,” because they know the ropes, can litigate the cases, but also form relationships with the defense team. Both sides know what the other needs in terms of settlement.

Professor Burch says while individual law firms seek settlements for their clients, lawyers with fewer clients are not usually in such an advantageous position to negotiate and often have to partner with the “repeat players,” to help their clients.

Settlements are private, so a judge in an MDL cannot override a decision as he can with a class action settlement, which is public, and the judge does not have the authority to make sure that law firms are not enriching themselves at the cost of their clients.m

Here is Part Two of our discussion.  See Part One here.  

Scales of Justice, WikiCommons

Mesh News Desk Editor, Akre Q: How is the MDL system different from class actions and how might a class benefit the plaintiff?

Burch, A: “The MDL is not certified as a class action, the NFL is an exception.

“I think we should start to file these issues as a class actions. They all have Ethicon in common so let’s try the common questions that relate to the defendant – What did they know and do and when did they know it – to litigate those as a class.  Then remand cases to individual courts for individual hearings on specific causation.

“The judge signs off on the settlement.  The judge awards attorney fees there may be some medical monitoring on a state by state basis. 

“And class actions can be appealed.” 

“Unlike a class action settlements, in which Rule 23 requires searching judicial inquiry to determine if the settlement is fair, non-class settlements are private contracts.  Attorneys may be tempted to cross the line and ethical boundaries to achieve finality.” 

Protest in Charleston WV fed court, June 2015

Q: For the women who’ve been given no option but to agree to a low-ball settlement, can anything can be done?

A: “For these women, my best piece of advice is to alert Judge Goodwin to what’s happening. These are private settlements and he’s not reviewing them, he is not taking a position, so maybe he doesn’t know what is going on. 

“He’s so pro settlement, the MDL panel has the power to remand cases but in the past they’ve not done so without the recommendation of Judge Goodwin.”

Jane Akre, federal courthouse, Charleston WV

Q: Many women tell me their lawyer never talks to them.

A: “They never do. Sometimes calls to fancy law firms don’t go to New York. You go to a call center in Dothan, Alabama in a warehouse.  Operators are doing the intake form then it’s forwarded to the law firm. For many, it’s a volume business. It’s happening in the Granuflo litigation also. ”

Q: Can’t lead lawyers within the MDL also work with a plaintiffs’ chosen counsel to best represent the client/injured?

A: “Lead lawyers replace parties chosen counsel and promote settlement with little oversight. The appointment of repeat playersmay complicate genuine consent through inadequate representation.

“Dictatorial attorney hierarchies fail to adequately represent the spectrum of claimants’ diverse interests.

“Repeat players trade in influence to increase their fees, collude on private deals with little incentive to derail the lucrative settlement they negotiate.”

Federal court, Charleston WV


Q: You suggest appointing diverse attorneys who represent heterogeneous clients, encouraging dissent from non-lead counsel?

A: “Yes. The basic ideas are that all the pressures in our system push lawyers to conform.  No one wants to object, they don’t become the squeaky wheel and they don’t get leadership positions. Introduce diverse leaders. Encourage judges to think about adequate representation. 

“If you have a class action over hip implant, separate who had had it and who hadn’t had it.  DePuy ASR litigation settled revised cases. Non-revised weren’t included in the settlement and can’t get remanded, they are no longer rep the non-revisables and they are languishing in the proceeding.  You need someone representing the non-revisables. We need a separate deal for them. 

“Once you appoint these leaders, if there is a conflict, no one has accounted for, if someone raises it, they should become a lead lawyer and serve alongside them to rep that group.  You have to incentivize people to speak up to get on leadership positions, otherwise you have the same thing over and over again.”  

Lori Cohen and team outside federal court , Charleston, WV, July 8, 2013

Q: The MDL was supposed to be for pretrial purposes only but only 2.9% of cases remand back to their original districts. Why?

A: “Lead lawyers and steering committees conduct discovery, disseminate information draft motions, negotiate settlements and try bellwether cases. They may be more interested in pleasing judges, fostering reciprocity among fellow attorneys and positioning themselves for future appointments, than advancing plaintiffs’ interests. Lead attorney hierarchies have more influence today. They hire the experts, conduct discovery, call meetings, and act as spokespersons for all of the plaintiffs.  The individually hired attorney has no power to appoint or discharge the leaders who are in charge other clients’ cases while deterring dissent from nonconforming lawyers.

Lack of remands is part of the problem. You can’t threaten to take to trial unless it’s picked a bellwether cases. That rarely happens. The plaintiff is at a disadvantage.”


As if on cue, Judge Goodwin has issued Court order #262 specifying how the law firms on the Common Benefit Fee & Cost Committee will be paid.

Included in it are orders from as early as 2012 establishing committees, criteria for applying to the MDL and the fee committee protocol.

Accounting firm Smith Cochran Hicks, PLLC will play a major role in distributing the common benefit dollars, 5% of every plaintiffs’ case.  See Order #262

Common Benefit Work Order #262, June 23, 2017 



What is Multidistrict Litigation?

Byrd federal court, Charleston WV

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, December 16, 2016 ~ MDL, Multidistrict Litigation.  Readers of Mesh Medical Device News Desk have been hearing about the court where most of the transvaginal mesh cases are consolidated. But what is the MDL and how did it get started?

In early January 2012, the number of transvaginal pelvic mesh cases filed in various state courts was growing. All of the injured women claimed the mesh had caused injuries, some life altering. Many had revision surgeries to remove eroded mesh. Others had surgeries to attempt to have the mesh removed.

Regardless most of the women who decided to file lawsuits decided they were suffering from a multitude of injuries and that they did not receive informed consent.

Mesh Lawsuits Consolidated In West Virginia

A three-judge panel met in Miami and decided the cases should be consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the federal court in Charleston, West Virginia where it would join similar cases pending against C.R. Bard filed two years earlier.

Multidistrict litigation is a fairly new way to deal with mass torts.

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, Charleston, WV

In 1968, Congress was responding to over 25,000 claims pending in 36 different federal courts alleging a nationwide antitrust conspiracy by the manufacturer of electrical equipment.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) 28 U.S.C. § 1407, also known as the MDL Panel, was formed. Made up of judges from different judicial circuits, they convene around the country to determine whether civil cases with common questions of fact should be consolidated into federal district courts under one judge.

The goal was to streamline pretrial proceedings by avoiding inconsistent lower court rulings, allowing individual actions to move through the courts more quickly.

The initial MDLs involved defective products, airplane crashes, investment fraud and patent infringements, among others.  Some of the better known MDLs are Vioxx, fen-phen and asbestos.

7 Defendants, 97,000+ Cases

Unlike Vioxx, which had one manufacturer, Merck, and resulted in a $4.85 billion settlement, the pelvic mesh litigation has grown to include seven defendants and more than 97,000 cases, closing in on the longest-lasting largest MDL of asbestos with 121,000 civil cases.

Judge Joseph Goodwin was assigned to oversee the cases eventually naming the seven manufacturers – Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems, Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), C.R. Bard, Coloplast, Cook Medical and Neomedic.

Does MDL Tip The Scales Of Justice?

Some plaintiffs feel that multidistrict litigation unfairly favors the defendant corporation.  A plaintiff may be precluded from litigating in her home state, which might be the forum of her choice and convenience.

Jurors in Cisson trial, the first Bard bellwether

A bellwether trial, so named for the lead male sheep who wore a bell to lead the flock, is selected from within the MDL to test legal theories before a jury and gives both sides the relative value of the cases.

The Role Of Bellwether Trials

Unless chosen to be a bellwether trial, individual plaintiffs receive much less attention in an MDL and must agree to whatever settlements are forthcoming as a result of those bellwether trials.

Bellwether cases generally lead to settlements but that has not been the case with many of the pelvic mesh manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific and C.R. Bard have offered limited settlements, based on a point system of injury. The larger the mesh and the more surgeries, the higher her settlement amount.

Federal Judge Defines Case “Waves” To Streamline Process

While the questions of fact are the same – is this a product that was defectively designed and manufacturer? Were the instructions to the end user / doctor insufficient, essentially defective? Were there promises made by industry and its sales reps to doctors a breach of warranty? Should the companies be punished with punitive damages?

Because we have so many companies, Judge Goodwin has begun to consolidate even further, grouping cases in “Waves” with similarities, such as a single trial for Boston Scientific and its Obtryx pelvic mesh.

No one ever envisioned a mass tort this big and no doubt the chapter on pelvic mesh, its success and failures will be one for the history books for decades to come.                                                                                                                                         ###

Cook Medical Joins Federal Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits In WV

June 18, 2013 ~ Just call it Multidistrict Litigation No. 2440.

As if more than 23,386 lawsuits (as of June 12) filed against synthetic transvaginal mesh makers were not enough, cases filed against Cook Medical have just been added to the multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidated in one federal court in West Virginia.

Cook is now the sixth mesh manufacturer whose product liability lawsuits are set to be heard in the federal court in Charleston.

JPML Consolidates Mesh Litigation Further

On June 11, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered the transfer of 13 complaints naming Cook Medical from eight different districts to now be overseen by the Honorable Judge Joseph. R. Goodwin.

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin

The other manufacturers include Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems, Coloplast and C.R. Bard.

C.R. Bard Bellwether Trial On The Way

On July 8, the first  of four bellwether cases against C.R. Bard is scheduled to go to trial.

Last June C.R. Bard lost a case filed by Christine Scott in California state court. Bard was ordered to pay Scott and her husband $5.5 million. That decision has been appealed by Bard.

Cook Medical makes the Surgisis Biodesign Tension-Free Urethral Sling, Surgisis Biodesign Anterior Pelvic Floor Graft, Surgisis Biodesign Posterior Pelvic Floor Graft, Cook Urological Stratasis Urethral Sling or Stratasis Tension Free Urethral Sling.

Here is their website.

Polypropylene v. Biologic Mesh

While most of the vaginal mesh products causing complications are made from polypropylene (PP), Cook has positioned itself as a specialist in biologic grafts, or dermis-based mesh. The Surgisis sling is made using the small intestines of a pig.  Women implanted with Cook Medical mesh allege debilitating problems such as pain, erosion, nerve damage, contraction and infection, among other complications.

The company says it is infection-resistant making it safer than other mesh.

Cook Medical prepared a Special Report in 2007, Dispelling Myths About Biologic Grafts. It largely talks about the new evolution of biologic mesh used for hernia repair combining the “best attributes of biologic grafts and synthetic mesh.”

Multidistrict litigation is the consolidation of lawsuits in one federal district court when there is a common question of fact. The judicial panel votes to transfer and consolidate similar cases so that they can move through the court more efficiently.

The first Pretrial Order (here) states a pretrial conference will be held August 1, 2013.

Learn More:

Cook Medical, Press release 2006

Cook Biotech

21,000 Mesh Cases Filed in Transvaginal Mesh Litigation

judge-mallet-200May 24, 2013 ~ A meeting in Charleston, West Virginia yesterday, where about 20,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been consolidated, yielded a tentative tolling agreement.

Under law, a tolling agreement suspends for a period of time, the statute of limitations. In this case, the  July, 2013 two-year statute of limitations date will be extended a number of months. That means potential plaintiffs who think it may be too late to file a case against any of the five mesh makers will have extra time  to file.

The ruling was issued to avoid a log jam of mass filings  in the federal court by those trying to make some deadline.

How A Tolling Of The Statute Of Limitations Could Affect You

If you are thinking of filing a case with one of the law firms involved in litigation here, it  is suggested to fill out the necessary papers to move it along. The website has a listing of the rulings and the  various law firms involved. These are likely the firms of trial lawyers who do the legwork to prepare a case.

Smaller firms may eventually pass your case to one of these larger firms.

Judge Joseph Goodwin

Judge Joseph Goodwin

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) allows for cases from all over the country to be heard by one judge, in this case The Honorable Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, to allow for consistent rulings so cases can move through the courts more quickly. They can still be tried individually but the MDL addresses all of the housework such as depositions and the filing of motions that precedes an actual jury trial.

The five defendants are Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientificand Coloplast.

Here is the So. District of West Virginia website and the number of cases filed as of May 22, 2013.

MDL No. 2187 C.R. Bard, Inc.  with 3,349 cases filed.

MDL No. 2325 American Medical Systems (AMS), Inc.  with 6,781 cases filed.

MDL No. 2326  Boston Scientific, Inc. with 4,157 cases filed.

MDL No. 2327 Ethicon, Inc. with 6,550 cases filed

MDL No. 2387 Coloplast Corp. with 420 cases filed.

TOTAL # cases filed in MDL= 21,257


Mesh Injury Lawsuits to be Consolidated in 3 MDLs in West Virginia

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.

Transvaginal Mesh MDL Gets A Whole Lot Bigger

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.

Creating “An Even Playing Field”

Judge Joseph Goodwin

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).

How Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) Works

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.



Upcoming Miami Hearing On Transvaginal Mesh Litigation & Consolidation 

JANUARY 12, 2012 ~ A growing number of women from around the country who are plaintiffs in transvaginal mesh litigation have a court date of Wednesday, January 26 in Miami. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)  is set to hear requests by plaintiff attorneys to have thousands of defective mesh lawsuits consolidated in the same federal court.

Here is the Notice of Hearing.

The proceeding will consider whether the injured women should have their cases centralized before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia before Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

Plaintiffs Claim Severe Mesh Injuries

The Honorable Joseph R. Goodwin

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 companies named in lawsuits include Boston Scientific Corp.American Medical Systems (acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings), and Ethicon(Johnson & Johnson). The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 4,000 reports of injuries to women who received the permanent implants to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence which have led to hundreds of lawsuits, background story here.

The plaintiffs argue 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.

How MDL Could Affect Your Case

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 sharing discovery and experts and to benefit from a uniform set of rules and rulings.

An MDL cuts down on the cost of bringing a case forward.  One judge oversees discovery, 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 to have the cases consolidated.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation meets in various cities to decide which request should be consolidated.

Benefits of MDL

For a large corporation an MDL is cheaper and allows fewer expert depositions, decreasing the change the person with knowledge will be inconsistent.

In an MDL, the damage amount awarded will be tailored to the individual’s damages they suffered as opposed to a class action where everyone is awarded the same amount regardless of their injury.

Plaintiff attorneys say that the costs of bringing the case forward is reduced for each plaintiff because the various law firms representing the women will be allowed to share the information they uncover during the discovery process in documents and depositions with the defendants, in this case the mesh makers. And a MDL does not preclude a woman suffering from damages from transvaginal surgical mesh to end up having her own trial.

Mesh Lawsuit Basics

The product liability litigation charges the companies knew or should have known their products were defective in their manufacture, their design and in their marketing materials in a failure to warn the public about the potential dangers.

The public became aware about the dangers of defective surgical mesh on July 13, 2011 when the FDA issued a safety notification warning that complications from the plastic petroleum-based mesh are “not rare” and questioning whether mesh provides any benefit over non-mesh surgery for pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.

FDA Eyes Increased Risk Designation For Mesh

As recently as January 4, 2012, the FDA said in a notification

“Based on assessment of Medical Device Reports (adverse event reports) submitted to the FDA, evaluation of the published literature, and the September 2011 Obstetrics-Gynecology Devices Panel meeting, the FDA is considering the recommendation that urogynecologic surgical mesh used for transvaginal repair of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) be reclassified from Class II to Class III.”

Class III designation would have required mesh manufacturers to conduct premarket approval, scientific studies for safety and efficacy on the permanent transvaginal mesh implant before they reach consumers. Presently mesh is a Class II device and those safety assurances are not required.



Plaintiffs Want Mesh Lawsuits Centralized

Scales of Justice, WikiCommons

DECEMBER 22, 2011 –The Athens Georgia law firm of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C. has filed a motion to have various plaintiffs from around the country centralize their defective transvaginal surgical mesh litigation in one federal court – the Southern District of West Virginia.

The three separate but related motions ask for actions against three different manufacturers to be moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia before Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

The action would allow similar lawsuits brought by other law firms to join the litigation reducing the cost of gathering evidence, and eliminating the time and effort that goes into duplicative discovery.

Law Firm Files Petition For Centralization

The request in the form of a motion was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation according to a December 21 news release (here).

The law firm says Southern District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin is already familiar with the issues because of the Avaulta MDL (multidistrict litigation).

If the three separate motions are granted, 83 cases around the country against American Medical Systems (Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings), 41 against Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), and 30 against Boston Scientific Corp. would be consolidated. Attorney Henry Garrard has been involved in transvaginal mesh issue since 2006 and is currently the lead counsel in the Avaulta multidistrict litigation.

Judge Goodwin has since October 2010, overseen pretrial proceedings in the Avaulta (C.R. Bard) Pelvic Support Systems Product Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2187).

Product Liability Lawsuits

Product liability or defective product lawsuits allege that a product was defective in its manufacture, its design or in a failure to warn. If the defect existed when the product was manufactured, it is possible that just one select group of product will be defective.

On the other hand, if there is a design flaw, the entire line might be dangerous to use and cause harm to the user. A marketing defect generally under reports or misreports information about the product. The  defendant, in this case the mesh manufacturers, are liable when they are shown the product is defective.

Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is consolidated before a “transferee judge” in one court. Plaintiff cases remain individually active and each plaintiff can have access to the defendant’s materials and witnesses gathered during the discovery process. This reduces the work of the court and should bring a settlement sooner.   Settlements are tailored to the damage the individual plaintiff has suffered and the number of plaintiffs in the MDL.


By |2018-10-17T15:52:25-04:00August 28th, 2018|Mesh Reading Room Resource|7 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.


  1. S September 8, 2018 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Settlements are tailored to the damage the individual plaintiff has suffered. Not So! for this MDL.

  2. anonymous September 13, 2018 at 10:39 am - Reply

    This whole article has me questioning the motives and integrity of attorneys. While not all attorneys are deceptive I believe most are. This MDL is about making them money and not doing right by the plaintiff. How is it fair that the attorneys make more than the people who have been hurt. To many women will live the rest of their lives in pain. They will face continuing procedures and high medical cost. Some have lost homes and marriages. Some are left with nothing but the pain from Mesh. How can these attorneys get together and form relationships with those that they are fighting a court case against? It reminds me of the song The Nights the Lights went out in Georgia. Where the judge is friends with the sheriff. How can attorneys force their clients to take a settlement. I thought everyone had the right to a trial. Yes yes yes I know trials cost money. But when you have several doctors supporting the cause of your injuries it’s not that hard to understand who is at fault.

    This statement here left me with my jaw dropped.

    *** The basic ideas are that all the pressures in our system push lawyers to conform. No one wants to object, they don’t become the squeaky wheel and they don’t get leadership positions. ****Really so the attorneys think more about what they can gain from pushing their clients to settle.*****
    The plaintiff lawyers negotiate to increase their common benefit fees, so every plaintiff agrees to settle also agrees to the increased fees they’ve negotiated with the defendant.

    “The defendant, in return, can negotiate for things it wants. You want finality, for example. You can have a walkaway provision, where basically it says, ‘Unless we get x percentage of the plaintiffs to agree to this, we walk away from the deal and the deal is off. ‘ That ranges from 85% to 100% of plaintiffs who must agree to the deal.

    “Some of the provisions aimed at the lawyers say you must recommend this deal to 100% of your clients. Some plaintiffs might not be in the same boat, but by agreeing to this settlement, you’re agreeing to recommend it to everybody!

    “Some other settlements say if you have a client who doesn’t want to settle you have to drop them like a hot potato. It’s unethical yet it’s done. That’s the tit-for-tat I’m talking about.”***

    So where is the justice for the woman who have been hurt so bad there is no hope of ever living pain free? Where is the justice that we have to pay the medical expenses and our insurance companies back? DROP US LIKE A HOT POTATO IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME. I was told to accept the settlement or we will drop you. How is that ever right or ethical? I am not the only woman I know that this has happened to. I would like to see an investigation into this unethical and almost seemly criminal activity. We did not have a chance to ever regain what we have lost. Some woman like me are crippled and will never ever work again let enjoy the life they once knew. But the attorneys do go to the back room and work out deals I believe in my own personal opinion. AND IN ALL REALITY IT DOES HAPPEN WAY TO OFTEN

    I have talked to an attorney who says it happens all the time. And yet our hands are tied. No one cares about us. No one will do anything because in our world money means more than morality. I never wanted millions and millions. I wanted my medical paid and my wages replaced. Neither happened. When the September 1st date came around and deals (venue motions) had to be made by then, suddenly my case went from being a really good case ( I was told this early in the year) to well I think you better settle. My partners don’t want me to take this to court. It went from one month well we will just push forward towards court to no if you don’t take this settlement we will drop you. I know trials cost a lot of money but I was assured we would win until the last month of talking to my attorney and then the lights went out on my hope. Everything I had hung on to was now gone. I have lost my marriage. I have over a hundred thousand in bills I have to pay back and to my in law family. I will end up homeless some day I do know that. I have no family left. I will lose my precious precious babies, my life lines. I will lose my home. All because no one cared about me as a human being. I was a number on a piece of paper. And now I live on less than $800.00 a month.

    So there is no hope for to many of us. A dear mesh friend is in the same boat that I am but at least her significant other will say. But we are being forced into taking a settlement that is so unfair to the most significantly hurt women. Despair and lose of hope is all I feel most days. I’d say who can we write to, but no hears our letters and no Judge Goodwin does not because I have written him a long time ago.

    This is dishonest what these attorneys are doing in my personal opinion. But I think that this was set up for the attorneys benefit and the big boys are pulling all the strings. The corruption and camaraderie is incomprehensible. These are the people we are fighting for hundreds of thousands of dollars and our attorneys are seemingly making buddies with them. And what is worst is that the defendants are offering it what seems to be bribes almost to get these attorneys to get their clients to settle by letting the attorneys increase their common benefit fee there by setting up an agreement with the defendants to make more money off of crippled and hurt people!!

    What part of that is ethical or even moral? What part of that is not boarder line criminal? But I will just disappear and no one will ever know what happened to me. I wish I could tell the world. No I will never reveal my attorneys name, what good would it do. Money is power and he and all the defendants have all the power. I think to many woman have been given really crummy settlements even worse than mine. I was given hope and reassured I would get back so much more. Many many years later I will walk away with no life and nothing to look forward to because some medical company found a way to make millions with out caring who they hurt. SO MUCH FOR THE AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM OR THE PROTECTION OF THE AMERICAN CITIZEN!!!!

  3. donotknow September 18, 2018 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I had found this article just a few days ago and forward it to Jane not knowing she already had a portion up already.

    I too was shocked and sickened by what I read about the Attorneys that are suppose to represent us and sadly how they really do not.

    This is nothing more than a money maker on the backs of all Victims.
    The lead Attorneys are getting millions and sway the Attorneys that represent us into a deal that benefits not the Victim but The Defendant and The Lawyers in Fees and the Common Benefit Fee is one is just another way for these Lawyers to make more money.

    I read the whole article and a Percentage based on what is actually rewarded to the Plaintiff is by far fair yet the system has not changed the math. The math wins for the Lawyers and Defense. The loser is the Plaintiff.

    Gosh I wish I had known all this years ago.

    My attorney said if we have to go to trial he will. That was stated to me privately when I did my deposition. Now he is no longer my lawyer. My case was passed over to another Lawyer in the large law firm for settlement.

    I guess I am one that doesnotknow. just like all of us.

    What a game that has been played against us. It’s a sham and a shame.

    Shame on all these Medical Companies that treat consumers the way they do.

  4. Rosemary Andrade May 25, 2019 at 7:01 pm - Reply

    It is disheartening to learn about this mass production line pelvic mesh lawsuits. I feel that I am being a victim twice. I had a vaginal mesh implanted that caused me a lot of life changing health problems, I failed a lawsuit, I waited years to hear from the law firm I chose to represent my case, I received a ridiculous settlement letter from the law firm, and now I am learning about this multidistric Litigation panel that was formed because it is cheaper. We are not things that can be quantified or qualified in categories of number of surgiries after the mesh implants. When I received this settlement letter, I got so angry and disappointed at the legal system in this country. I am a victim, I am a single parent, I feel the daily physical and emotional pain that this surgery has caused me. I have a number of other major physical problems due to nerve damage caused by this mesh implant. I feel ashamed of my condition and I don’t talk about it with anyone. Many times, including yesterday, I have unexpected accidents that put me in major chaotic situations that I cannot even describe due to the sensitivity and akwardiness of the events. And today, I learned that I might have a third party small office located somewhere to handle my case instead of the law firm that I contacted to handle my case. Through this website, I learned that a number of big and powerful lawyers were assigned to handle this MDL mesh legal case. Today I learned that there are companies that use private Jets and charge 40% of the settlement and the plaintiffs are left with a life long health problem and are advised to accept the settlement or nothing at all. I questioned my lawfirm as to which judge would consider the side of these big corporations. I hope my case and any other case is analysed individually and a fair settlement is awarded to every plaintiff that had their lives altered due to power and perhaps greed. We are all victims in this mesh implant messy legal case that I don’t even know what it’s called. We are not to be treated as a mass production line because it is cheaper or faster. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

  5. Suzee June 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm - Reply

    I am sitting here reading this and just want to melt away. I feel so selfish because I probably received a higher settlement then the average claimant, however my problem is also with the attorney that, the attorney office I chose, referred it to. While speaking to the attorney that handles my case, we became aware that they never sent for my records from the doctors office where I went for the removal. Their office is part of the hospital where the removal took place but I had a trim performed in office. After the removal surgery, it took me a long time to heal and I had already had nerve damage, prolapse and both kinds of incontinence. Yay me!! I still had not had the surgery to re-repair my prolapse and incontinence because I struggle with legitimate panic & anxiety disorder and was diagnosed with major depression, and I was in so much pain, on top of the mesh damage, with fibromyalgia, I was scared to death to have another surgery and I was just living with it. I was told by phone that I had to have any future surgery by April 25, 2018 if it were to be included in my settlement. I even spoke to my attorney from Clark, Love and Hudson when I was in the hospital… She said, in a email, that she was going to supplement the application to the special master with my new operative report and never once did she tell me that I was past the cut-off date that the court sets for future surgeries, until I received the letter from the special master and then the letter from the attorney office wanting me to sign off so I can get the final check. It said that I had received the break down of everything. I didn’t. They did explain the break down of “their money” and anything pertaining to them, but they will not show me on the points system what has been corrected, nor will they give me a copy of the application to the special master that my attorney submitted on my behalf. I even tried to get a copy from the special master’s office and I was told that I couldn’t speak to them. I wanted to see what the application actually said and if she applied for the additional surgery and 3 other things on the points system, one of which was an error because I had prolapse AND incontinence which scores differently. After many attempts to communicate with their office, and many emails later, I was finally given some records but none of them proved that they faxed, emailed or mailed a application in for me, TO the special master. No fax to them, no cover letter or summary about me and my situation…nothing. So now it sits and I don’t really know what to do. In her reply to me about the future surgery, she denoted that any future surgery had to be done before 2017, however she forgot to tell me that when I scheduled the surgery. As a matter of fact, everything they TOLD me on the phone was different than what they forced me to sign (if I wanted any amount at all) and different again, based on what I’ve read on the court documents. My brother had just died one week prior to me having that surgery and I wasn’t able to go be with my family, nor did I have the money. My attorney told me that I should have let her know and she would approach the attorneys about a advance. After the surgery and my inability to work, not knowing how long it would be for the initial settlement check to come, I called and asked for that advance. I was told by the same woman, that they don’t do advances and they also don’t “ALLOW” me to get a loan against it. I’m happy I didn’t do that, but the point of the matter is all the double talk and the lies they tell you. At this point, I guess they are holding onto my check because I won’t sign their last set of lies and I am thinking about pursuing a case against them for a corrected settlement, depending. I have now lost my house in 2016, my relationship with my husband was destroyed and I’ve since been sleeping on a sofa for the last three years. That was another thing.. Loss of consortium. When I mentioned why that wasn’t being addressed, I was told that their firm didn’t “do” consortium if it doesn’t matter. I’m not even 50 yet and I need to have undergarment protection (yes, a big bulky damn diaper) if I don’t want to change clothes 5 times a day for the times I can’t make it to the bathroom or when I’m in public which I hardly want to go anywhere anymore, especially a store because many of them won’t allow you to use the restroom. My depression is so much greater now than it was, it’s an every single day struggle and I’m lucky to even be able to feed my family because I no longer have the ability to function like a normal adult who can and has recovered from a surgery. There is no recovery out of this and I will have these problems for the rest of my life and these attorneys have walked away with a LOT of money from all of us 🙁 By the way, one of the tactics the attorneys use is this (in case it helps someone else) I asked for my correspondence to be via email after I noticed that the things I was told over the phone, wasn’t the same as what was sent to me in writing. Every email I sent was still followed up by a phone call or a message from the admin. assistant wanting to schedule a phone conference about my concerns. I had to ask multiple times and 6 times at least for a copy of “my” application to the special master and what I got was a copy of my operative report that she said was forwarded to the special master and a copy of the letter he sent me. No proof. No “application”. I am not a big enough fish in the ocean and not worthy of actual proof and I need the remainder of my settlement but I want it to be correct, based on the point system that they gave everyone in the mdl, but instead I was told that the special master has made his decisions and it is not able to be appealed. Thank you for listening. I pray for hope and healing for all of us tangled up in this mess. Oh yes, to conclude my story… the doctor that originally put the mesh in me turned his back on me and acted like he didn’t even feel the mesh extruding when he had already spoke to my primary care doctor that I let examine me AND after it cut my husband and was stabbing me inside, not to mention that I had infection twice. All he did was put me on a different antibiotic because he said it was better and gave me samples of bladder control medicine and said, “these are worth money, see ya in a year!” He also didn’t have a nurse in the room during this follow-up exam and sent me out the side door and told me there was no need to check out. I’ve lost all faith in professionals who I had always thought were there to help and protect me. Good luck and god bless!

    • Jane Akre June 27, 2019 at 4:53 pm - Reply

      Diane- has your case settled? did you sign paperwork accepting a settlement?

  6. Anonymous September 3, 2020 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    This is what needs to happen , we the hurt, stop and do what is right for all of us !! Our lives matter !! If we weren’t afraid of these criminals that call them selfs legal lawyers, judges, the pharmaceutical companies. There has got to be a few firms that have the streigth to want to put these sums of B——- where they belong !! Why is everyone scared ? Because of behind the doors ? Well we can put them,behind the bars leave them,all homeless !! Wake up this is what happens if we all don’t pull together !! Let’s Do It !!

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