By Tuesday afternoon, women who gathered for a status hearing on their pelvic mesh cases began filtering into Judge Joseph Goodwin’s Charleston, WV courtroom.
Judge Goodwin is overseeing more than 76,000 product liability cases in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia. He had called for a status hearing from five manufacturer, which brought attorneys from both sides to Charleston. Here is the status conference order.
Tammy Jackson, a mesh-injured participant from Kentucky tells MND that they listened as Judge Goodwin called up each manufacturer to account for what each was doing to bring these mass tort proceedings forward to some resolution.
Attorneys for Johnson and Johnson, which has the most cases filed here (26,200), told the judge it has three trials scheduled for later this year, one in August in this Charleston courtroom and a case scheduled for July in Bergen, New Jersey. J&J vows to continue with litigation. The company has previously said it wants to be vindicated in court.
“It went real quick,” says Jackson as lawyers for each of the five manufacturers present spoke before Judge Goodwin.
Women have filed defective product actions against manufacturers claiming the mesh is defectively designed and manufactured and that instructions to end users (doctors) are defective and inadequate. Without informing doctors, their female patients can never receive true informed consent. Several jury trials have ended up in excess of $200 million in compensatory awards and a designation that the pelvic mesh was defective. Still, most meshes remain on the market.
Outside, about 20 mesh-injured woman and their families chanted “No More Mesh” as lawyers arrive at the federal courthouse. One husband held up a sign to passing motorists. Another woman had an image of Alex Gorsky, the CEO of J&J, behind bars.
Jackson says plaintiffs’ attorneys would stop, smile and give the thumbs up, while attorneys representing defendants would ignore the crowd or shoot them a disapproving look.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees courthouse safety, made the group feel welcome offering them restroom and water breaks. “We were treated very well.,” says Jackson who added the camaraderie of the group was emotionally overwhelming.
“We hugged each other, it was beautiful. It’s a sisterhood we don’t forget,” she said, vowing to return.
This story is in production as the court files and update on the status hearing. Judge Joseph Goodwin has said the federal court was never designed to deal with such a large number of product liability cases, the largest mass tort ever filed in one court.
Pelvic mesh, made of polypropylene, remains on the market and is still used by doctors to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence, even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that complications are “not rare”.
As a result, some manufacturers have quietly removed their most problematic mesh products, those associated with the most injuries.
Patients need to ask if the mesh is made of polypropylene, which, when implanted transvaginally, seems to cause life-altering complications in about one-third of the recipients.
Hernia mesh patients are also experiencing pain, mesh shrinkage, chronic infections, and autoimmune reactions. #