News Feature | December 16, 2014

C.R. Bard Could Lose Billions In Damages, According To District Judge

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq


A federal court judge overseeing the consolidated multi-district litigation over defective transvaginal mesh products recently warned manufacturer C.R. Bard that the company could lose billions of dollars in damages if it refuses to settle.

“I find it to be a material fact that five different state forums have, on average, returned verdicts of over a million dollars per plaintiff,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia, said during a pre-trial hearing for 500 cases, according to Bloomberg. The cases are part of the more than 12,000 lawsuits the company is facing over its surgical incontinence products for women.

“I can’t imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of dollars in verdicts wouldn’t find it advisable to try to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum,” Goodwin said at a recent hearing, according to a transcript obtained by Bloomberg. “I base that billions of dollars business on some of the rather large verdicts that we’ve had.”

C.R. Bard’s recent actions indicate that it is open to settling at least some of those suits. Recently, the company settled a separate batch of more than 500 cases for $21 million and paid plaintiffs an average of $43,000 each, according to a previous Med Device Online story. Per the article, the company declared in a recent filing that it “continues to engage in discussions with other plaintiffs’ law firms regarding potential resolution of unsettled claims.”

Settling the rest of the cases rather than going through arduous trials may be in the best interest of C.R. Bard’s shareholders, according to one analyst.

“Bard has to take this very seriously because the judge is saying these cases could expose it to the kind of liability that could be the end of the company and result in a bankruptcy filing,” Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told Bloomberg. “It’s very rare for a federal judge to warn shareholders about the consequences of management failing to resolve lawsuits.”

Another pelvic mesh device manufacturer, Endo International, agreed in May to pay $830 million to settle more than 20,000 claims, or an average of $40,000 for each plaintiff.

Other medical device manufacturers that have opted to go to trial rather than settle have lost their recent court battles over their respective transvaginal mesh products.

Boston Scientific, which is dealing with about 12,000 suits, was recently ordered by a Texas jury to pay a woman $73 million for injuries caused by the company’s Obtryx incontinence sling. Just last month, a jury in West Virginia ordered the company to pay four women $18.5 million, while a jury in Miami ordered it to pay four women $26.7 million in damages, according to a Med Device Online article.

Johnson & Johnson, which is facing some 30,000 lawsuits over the devices, was recently ordered by jurors to pay a former patient $3.27 million in damages for injuries caused by a stress incontinence product made by the company’s Ethicon unit.