TVT from Meshed Up UK

Mesh Medical Device News Desk,  February 21, 2017 ~ After much delay, the Mullins case, a defective pelvic mesh trial of 24 women, is still on schedule for March 6, in Charleston WV.

This is an attempt by Judge Joseph Goodwin, who is overseeing multidistrict litigation in his federal court, to move along cases that appear to have stalled, especially Ethicon and its parent company, Johnson & Johnson.  J&J has the most cases before Judge Goodwin among the seven manufacturers of transvaginal mesh.  

The case, Mullins et all (Case No. 2:12-cv-02952), will be the first time Judge Goodwin has tried so many plaintiffs at one time.  The format for the trial is not apparent to those who will be participating, though seven plaintiffs law firms will be represented.  A rally is planned coordinated by the Mesh Awareness Movement.

Judge Joseph Goodwin

filed in the Southern District of West Virginia where cases are consolidated in multidistrict litigation. The defendant corporation is Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, one of seven defendants in this mass tort that contains more than 96,000 product liability lawsuits naming defective pelvic mesh. 

MAM rally in Charleston, WV in 2015

All of the plaintiffs have common questions of fact – all are from West Virginia and all were implanted with the Tension-Free Vaginal Tape (TVT) to treat incontinence. There are different implanting physicians but one of them is Dr. Eddie Sze, formerly of WV University Hospital.

All of the women claim injuries ranging from chronic pain and infection, mesh migration and shrinkage, painful sex, nerve pain and other problems. Most have had multiple surgeries to try and remove the polypropylene mesh used to treat incontinence.

TVT was introduced in the U.S. in 1998. It remains on the market and is still referred to as the “Gold Standard” treatment for incontinence, by some in the medical community (here). 

Dr. Eddie Sze, formerly of WV University Hospital

The Mullins defective product case was last scheduled to be heard April 2016. At that time it included 37 plaintiffs, some of who may have settled their cases or had them remanded back to state court. 

It includes allegations of design defect, manufacturing defect, negligence, a failure to warn, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, loss of consortium and punitive damages.

One reader to MND feels having so many plaintiffs in one trial is a plaintiff advantage.  “Think about this: if a design harms only one person, the jury will wonder if maybe that person was unique somehow. If a design harms 37 people, it is more obvious that the problem is the design/device.”

The last trials that were held in Charleston, were Tyree v Boston Scientific (2:12-cv-08633)  (coverage of the trial is here), which concluded November 4, 2014.   

In Tyree, four plaintiffs – Wilson, Tyree, Campbell and Blankenship, who had all been implanted with the Obtryx mesh, received compensatory damages totaling $18.5 million.

The Bellew v. Ethicon case, (No. 2:13-cv-22473), also held in Charleston, WV, settled after a four-day trial in March 2015.

Here is a MND story.   More background on the legal issues in the Bellew case are here.

Trial will commence March 6, 2017 at 8:30 am.