News Feature | February 10, 2015

District Judge Calls For Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit Settlements

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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A judge recently enjoined parties embroiled in tens of thousands of transvaginal mesh cases to forge settlement deals soon to avoid costly and lengthy trials.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, WV, urged lawyers representing the plaintiffs and the defendant medical device companies — notably C.R. Bard, Johnson & Johnson's (J&J's) Ethicon subsidiary, and Boston Scientific — in court to settle. Otherwise, he would have to send the cases to trial as quickly as necessary.

"I'm going to kick it into high gear and ask that you do the same," he said in court during pre-trial meetings, according to a Reuters report.

Judge Goodwin told parties present in court that trials could drag on for decades and cost billions in penalties for manufacturers of transvaginal mesh, used to treat urinary incontinence and organ prolapse, per Reuters. Goodwin is overseeing the multi-district litigation (MDL), to which some 70,000 cases have been consolidated.

Women across the United States have filed thousands of claims that the implants caused them pain, bleeding, and tissue injuries. Makers of transvaginal devices have defended the devices’ safety. The companies have gone to trial multiple times, winning some cases, though recent verdicts have been  unfavorable.

For instance, Boston Scientific lost successive court trials last year, with jurors in West Virginia and Texas ordering the company to pay plaintiffs millions. J&J last year also was ordered to pay a woman millions in damages for injuries caused by mesh made by its Ethicon subsidiary. In January, J&J decided to settle four other mesh cases.

Other manufacturers have also opted to settle. Last year, Endo subsidiary American Medical Systems (AMS) settled 20,000 thousand cases for $830 million. C.R. Bard also last year agreed to settle more than 500 lawsuits for $21 million.

Judge Goodwin had earlier warned C.R. Bard and others that they risk losing billions in dollars in damages, given how jurors are returning verdicts.

“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 of C.R. Bard’s cases, according to a previous Med Device Online article. “I base that billions of dollars business on some of the rather large verdicts that we’ve had.”