News Feature | November 25, 2014

Boston Scientific Bombarded With Trial Losses Over Transvaginal Mesh

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


Boston Scientific recently absorbed consecutive defeats in federal court trials over transvaginal mesh devices, a trend that could make it more likely for the medical device company to settle thousands of other lawsuits over the implants.

A jury in West Virginia recently ordered Boston Scientific to pay four women $18.5 million for injuries caused by its Obtryx implant for stress urinary incontinence and, just a week prior, a jury in Miami awarded $26.7 million in damages to four women implanted with the company’s Pinnacle device for pelvic organ prolapse, according to a Reuters report. Experts said in the article that the large compensatory damages awarded to plaintiffs could provide a benchmark for future claims, although it may not necessarily indicate that other suits will go against Boston Scientific.

The company in September lost a state court trial when jurors in Dallas ruled that the company owed a woman $73 million for injuries caused by the Obtryx incontinence sling. In August, the company’s petition to sever four cases from a multi-district litigation (MDL) overseen by Judge Joseph Goodwin in West Virginia was denied.

There are “about 60,000 mesh/sling lawsuits in the MDL, with 12,000 Boston Scientific, 9,500 Bard Avaulta, 19,300 Ethicon, 18,000 American Medical Systems (AMS), 1,600 Coloplast, 250 Cook Medical and 66 Neomedic mesh lawsuits,” according to a report by The Legal Examiner.

Losing this first batch of transvaginal mesh cases does not bode well for Boston Scientific, according to some experts.

“This has to hurt,” Howard Erichson, a Fordham Law School professor, told Reuters. “The company has to be drawn to finding a way to settle the bulk of the remaining cases.”

Boston Scientific did not comment about its latest court loss, but Reuters noted that the company previously said that it would challenge the recent verdicts. Additionally, an SEC filing showed that the company has allotted $945 million for settlement and defense costs.

These verdicts “absolutely send the message” to medical device companies to think about settling similar suits, Erin Copeland, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Miami case, told Reuters.

Erichson also noted that “some sort of collective settlement is going to make sense for the plaintiffs, it’s going to make sense for the defendant, and it’s absolutely what the judge wants,” according to Reuters.

Other manufacturers of transvaginal mesh implants have already decided to settle instead of going through litigation. C.R. Bard agreed last month to settle more than 500 transvaginal mesh lawsuits for $21 million, while Endo International earlier this year agreed to settle 20,000 claims for $830 million over implants made by its subsidiary American Medical Systems (AMS).