News Feature | October 8, 2014

C.R. Bard Settles Vaginal Mesh Suits For $21 Million

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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Surgical products maker C.R. Bard agreed to settle more than 500 lawsuits for $21 million over its transvaginal mesh implants that patients claim had caused chronic pain, organ damage, and other complications.

Bard is willing to give claimants an average of $43,000 each to end their suits, according to three sources who spoke to Bloomberg on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the matter. The settlement comes after the company was told by a West Virginia court presiding over the multi-district litigation (MDL) to prepare for trials.

“It’s our policy not to comment on continuing litigation,” Scott Lowry, a Bard spokesman, told Bloomberg. In regards to the settlement, he said “it’s already out there ... We announced it in July” in public filings.

Bard said in the SEC filing that: “During the second quarter of 2014, the company reached an agreement with two plaintiffs’ law firms to settle their inventory of cases, representing more than 500 of the filed or asserted Women’s Health Product Claims, which the company believes are not the subject of its supplier’s indemnification obligation.”

Bard also said in the filing that it is facing a total of 12,445 product liability lawsuits in “various federal and state jurisdictions alleging personal injuries associated with the use of certain of the company’s surgical continence products for women, including its Avaulta line of products,” and that it anticipates additional multiple trials until 2015.

The company confirmed in the regulatory filing that it was defeated in a state court trial in July 2012 and was ordered to pay a woman $3.6 million. The company lost again in July 2013 in a MDL trial in West Virginia for $2 million. 

Bard declared in the document that it “continues to engage in discussions with other plaintiffs’ law firms regarding potential resolution of unsettled” claims, and analysts think that the company will eventually settle the remainder of the claims.

“With all those trials looming, I think Bard is signaling that they are willing to settle if plaintiffs are willing to accept $40,000-plus for their cases,” Carl Tobias, a product-liability professor at the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia, told Bloomberg. “I expect we’ll see some more of these settlements in the near future.”

Other manufacturers that are embroiled in the controversy surrounding pelvic or transvaginal mesh products have taken different approaches to resolution. Endo International decided to avoid litigation and chose to settle pelvic mesh claims for $830 million back in May. Boston Scientific, a company that is facing over 12,000 suits, won two cases but lost a third one recently and was ordered to pay a plaintiff $73 million in damages. Johnson & Johnson lost consecutive trials over transvaginal devices in April and September. J&J’s Ethicon unit stopped selling four vaginal mesh products in 2012.

The FDA has not banned the implants but said the products will be subject to stricter safety requirements.