Mesh News Desk, April 4, 2016 ~ Pace of Trials Naming J&J Increases
This week lawyers and representatives from mesh making companies are expected to gather in Charleston, WV for a status conference on pelvic mesh litigation, April 6 and 7th. Judge Joseph Goodwin, who is overseeing 90,000 defective product cases filed in his court, will oversee the status updates.
Making an appearance are representative attorneys and corporate reps from Sofradim, Bard, Boston Scientific, Ethicon, AMS, Coloplast and Cook.
As he has before, Judge Goodwin is asking defendant client representatives with “full authority to make all decisions related to MDL 2327″
(Ethicon) be present along with in-house counsel for defendant and settlement counsel for the defendant and lead plaintiff counsel.
Judge Goodwin wants to be assured the companies are hearing directly from the court and not receiving an inaccurate or rosy picture painted by defendant law firms who stand to benefit from protracted litigation or may be in conflict with the concept of moving things through the court.
*Update on April 6, 7 – Judge Goodwin cancelled the meeting for April 7th after all business reportedly was completed on the 6th. According to a source- some firms are taking care of their clients, others are getting their inventories settled, in other words, settling so they can move on. This is particularly relevant to Boston Scientific where some firms want to settle their case without exploring the Chinese counterfeit mesh controversy. Reportedly Judge Goodwin wants to see injured women get paid and does not like firms that are selling leads and subjecting women to funding groups that are charging high interest the longer this drags on. We may soon see cases being worked up in the hundreds at a time to move these proceedings along. There is a great deal of rumbling about what’s called common benefit work, that comes from the 5% withheld on settlements. Mesh News Desk will keep an eye on the accounting when it is released which should reveal which firms are abusing the system for their own gain.
Rabiola Trial – Rescheduled After Death of Plaintiff
The Josephine Marie Rabiola v. Ethicon, trial was to be heard in Austin, Texas in the 53rd Judicial District Court in Austin, Texas. It was originally set for October, then February of 2016. Ms. Rabiola has since passed away, reportedly from heart-related problems unrelated to mesh. She was 63-years-old when she was implanted with two meshes- the Gynecare TVT Secur system to treat incontinence in May of 2010, and then the Prosima Pelvic Floor Repair System to treat pelvic organ prolapse in November 2011.
Her lawyer son, who is the executor of her estate, will continue with her product liability trial when it is rescheduled.
This was to be the first trial for the TVT-Secur, a mini-sling that mimics the TVT-Obturator placement, that is through the obturator space, the leg socket. The TVT-Secur was intended to be the third generation improvement over the TVT (transvaginal tape).
The Abbrevo, a similar product and also a mini-sling, was the mesh implanted in Plaintiff Coleen Perry. She was awarded $5.7 million by a California jury in March 2015.
Mullins et al – 37 Plaintiffs’ Case to be Heard en Masse
The Mullins case has not been rescheduled at this time.
This is a trial of 37 plaintiffs which may be heard all at one time before Judge Goodwin in Charleston, WV. All of the women in Mullins had been implanted with Johnson & Johnson’s TVT (transvaginal tape) and all are from West Virginia. Even though they had been implanted by different doctors, their injuries from defendant, Ethicon/ J&J pelvic mesh, offered enough similarities to consolidate them into one defective product case before Judge Goodwin in this multidistrict litigation.
This consolidated case will focus on design defect. Defective warning, breach of warranty and punitive damages may be added to plaintiffs’ claims.
Dr. Stanley Zaslau, M.D. from Morgantown, WV (here) is the doctor who implanted many of the plaintiffs. He has been noticed for videotaped deposition. Defendants objected to some of the requests – documents were already produced, while requests for brochures, training materials, video and emails are overly broad and ”not proportional to the needs of the case.”
Plaintiffs seek any evidence of a financial relationship between J&J / Ethicon and the doctor including consulting agreements, contracts, and monetary benefits. Defendants say this is overly broad and not relevant to any party’s claim. Christy Jones and David Thomas write the objection.
The completion of pretrial in Mullins should be done by June 30, 2016 and trial can be set after that time, according to Judge Goodwin’s order of March 15.
PTO # 214 lays out the parameters for the defense to conduct the medical examinations of the women in Mullins.
Ramirez v. Ethicon, April 25, 2016 San Antonio, Texas
The Jennifer Ramirez v. Ethicon case was supposed to start July 13 in San Antonio, Texas before Judge J. David Canales, (No. #2012-ci-18690), 73rd Civil Division, TX. She was implanted with TVT-O and was originally supposed to go to trial November 2014.
Oral arguments are now set to begin Wednesday, April 27 and 28, 2016.
* UPDATE** Judge Arteaga’s office informs MND that the case is either continued awaiting a settlement or has settled, it’s unclear at this writing. Will work to follow up on this!* Here is the list of documents in the case: http://apps.bexar.org/Search/Details?r=7adea2cd-2348-44cf-9933-0ddbf1f79f96&st=l&l=ramirez&fn=jennifer&p=2_2012CI18690%20%20%20%20DC0000100420#history
Brenda Trotter v. Ethicon- Pretrial in Oklahoma City. April, 2016.
Ms. Trotter was implanted with a TVT-S and a Prolift pelvic floor repair mesh. Interesting fact- she was implanted one month before the FDA finally discovered Prolift had been on the market without any FDA clearance. J&J just began selling Prolift in 2005 under the FDA clearance process and it wasn’t discovered until 2008 when J&J applied to the FDA to sell the next generation, the Prolift+M. The pretrial proceedings in April will determine a court date to be held later in this year or next year.
J&J Annual Shareholders meeting, New Brunswick, NJ, April 28, 2016.
Some women and family members injured by Johnson & Johnson’s pelvic mesh may plan to attend the annual shareholders meeting in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Two years ago, a rally was held outside the hotel and J&J headquarters as shareholders filed in.
Two women implanted and injured by J&J’s pelvic mesh were allowed in to speak directly to J&J CEO Alex Gorsky.
See Investor FAQ here.
2016 Annual Meeting of Shareholders here.
Figeroa v Boston Scientific, May 16, 2016, Dallas Texas DC-13-03145, before Judge Molberg. Reportedly this case will be resolved with others naming defendant company Boston Scientific. It will serve as a vehicle to settle other cases, according to sources.
Edwards, et al. v. Ethicon, Inc., et al., June 3, 2016, 2:12-cv-09972, Charleston, WV
The plaintiffs Tonya Edwards, a resident of Georgia, She was implanted with a TVT-O by Dr. Harold Wittcoff at Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta, GA. See background story here.
Defense planned to raise the following defenses – Edwards was obese, had experienced hip and back pain prior to her mesh implant and had a small rectocele and cystocele as well as urethral hypermobility, all prior to her implant. Treatments such as injections had not treated her SUI. She had had about 60 occasions to consult with various medical providers and did not report pelvic pain until more than six years after her implant, says the defense. It was only after seeing a television ad for pelvic mesh litigation that she filed her case, according to lawyers for J&J.
Counts include Negligence, Strict Liability-Manufacturing Defect; Failure to Warn; Defective Product; Design defect; Fraud and fraudulent concealment, Negligence, Breach of express warranty, violation of consumer protection laws, gross negligence, unjust enrichment, loss of consortium and punitive damages.
Attorneys are Mark Mueller, John Fabry, Breanne Vandermeer. The case was filed December 31, 2012. This trial is limited to six days writes Judge Goodwin in a June 12, 2015 order.
There will be a pretrial conference Thursday, May 26 to determine if jury selection alone will take place on the 3rd or whether opening arguments will commence on that date, a Friday, or on the following Monday, June 6.
J&J TRIALS STILL AHEAD
Vanderveer v. Ethicon, Philadelphia, Kline & Specter, Prolift and TVT, February 8, 2016, Trial date certain October 24, 2016. Unassigned judge
Hansen, Bernice et al v Ethicon October 11, 2016, Trial date certain. Rep. by Kline and Specter, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Beltz, Sharon v. Ethicon, Dec 5, 2016, Philadelphia, Kline & Specter
Prochazka, Traci v. Ethicon Jan 23, 2017, Kline & specter, Philadelphia Court of Common pleas
Dempsey, Theresa v Ethicon Feb 6, 2017, Philadelphia, Kline Specter
Following the Philadelphia Court here.