Transvaginal mesh plaintiffs are petitioning for the vaginal mesh litigation pending against 4 different companies to be centralized before one judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
As described in previous blogs, thousands women throughout the United States are bringing product liability lawsuits against the 4 main medical device manufacturers as a result of injuries with transvaginal bladder mesh systems, which have been associated with reports of infection, vaginal erosion and pelvic pain.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) in November received motions for many Boston Scientific pelvic mesh lawsuits, American Medical Systems (AMS) mesh lawsuits and Ethicon/Gynecare mesh lawsuits to be centralized before Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, who is already presiding over all federal Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuits that were consolidated for pretrial proceedings.
The plaintiffs are calling for the Panel to establish three new MDLs, or multidistrict litigations, in the Southern District of West Virginia, where Judge Goodwin can coordinate the litigation together with the Bard Avaulta cases.
The vaginal mesh lawsuits contain allegations involving defects with pelvic repair products used during transvaginal surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which caused women to experience painful and debilitating complications.
Commonly, women are implanted with more than one product, which are often manufactured and sold by different companies. Thus, plaintiffs have requested that currently unconsolidated litigation for vaginal mesh products sold by Boston Scientific, AMS and Ethicon/Gynecare be transferred to the Southern District of West Virginia, for coordinated handling.
The plaintiffs argue that “the centralization of these actions in a single judicial district for coordinated and/or consolidated pretrial proceedings will promote the interests of justice.”
“The transfer of these cases will conserve judicial resources, reduce litigation costs, avoid potentially inconsistent pretrial scheduling orders and substantive rulings, and will eliminate unnecessary duplicative discovery.”
Plaintiffs further argue that the claims against all of these manufacturers are similar, and Judge Goodwin has already become familiar with the factual and legal issues presented throughout the cases and is uniquely positioned to handle the conflicts that may arise from cases involving individual women who received multiple devices from different manufacturers.
The general public has become increasingly about the risk of vaginal mesh problems, after the FDA issued warnings about an increasing number of adverse event reports associated with the products.
In July, the FDA issued transvaginal mesh warning, indicating that they have been unable to find any scientific evidence that transvaginal mesh kits provide any benefit over other available means of treatment.
In September, an FDA advisory panel was held to review the potential health risks with vaginal mesh products. At the hearing, a majority of surgical mesh manufacturers joined together to create a “Transvaginal Mesh Working Group”, making a joint presentation to the committee and presenting a unified voice and position at the hearing.