It happened Tuesday afternoon, February 7. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ruled that lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country against three synthetic vaginal mesh manufacturers could be transferred to be heard by one federal judge in West Virginia.
The cases were filed against American Medical Systems Inc. (MDL No. 2325), Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL 2326), and Ethicon, Inc. (MDL 2327).
The JPML ordered that 82 actions against American Medical Systems be transferred, 22 actions against Boston Scientific, and 36 cases against Ethicon be transferred to the U.S. District Court Judge who will hear the consolidated cases – Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia. There will be three different MDL’s consolidated against the three manufacturers to be heard by Judge Goodwin who is familiar with synthetic mesh injuries; he currently oversees the C.R. Bard Avaulta lawsuits.
The female plaintiffs all report similar injuries after receiving synthetic mesh for pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence, common female problems. These complications range from intense pain, disability, mesh erosion and shrinkage, nerve damage, and infection, among other injuries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received more than 4,000 reports of injuries in its database, which is thought to represent just a fraction of what exists in the real world because the database is little-known and difficult to access.
As it stands now, the cases should move forward much more efficiently. Plaintiffs will be able to share the discovery gathered from the manufacturers, which is part of the litigation process. Judge Goodwin should also be able to understand how to handle claims if two different types of mesh have been used on the same women, as happens occasionally. In addition, there won’t be conflicting court rulings from around the country that would have to be sorted out.
An MDL is a special procedure, somewhat similar to a class action, in which noncriminal cases are consolidated into one court. Unlike a class action, individuals can file their own product liability lawsuits.
Expect the first of these defective product lawsuits to begin to be heard in 2012.
Any woman experiencing complications from defective surgical mesh can call the transvaginal mesh attorneys in Jacksonville of Farah & Farah at (800) 533-3555. The consultation is free and confidential.