As of June 2021, multiple courts have coordinated thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits against major mesh manufacturers, including C.R. Bard, Inc., Ethicon, Inc., Atrium Medical Corp., and Covidien, Inc./Medtronic, Inc. While not yet consolidated, lawsuits have also been filed against other hernia mesh manufacturers such as Aspide Medical and W.L. Gore & Associates for injuries caused by their hernia mesh products.
A coordinated legal proceeding is a process by which all lawsuits against a particular company alleges the same product-caused injuries are transferred to one court for pretrial purposes. This process conserves judicial resources and prevents inconsistent legal decisions, which can happen when multiple courts issue rulings on the same set of facts. Having a single court oversee all activity until trial helps prevent inconsistencies from occurring.
Most of the hernia mesh coordinated proceedings are relatively advanced. The oldest proceeding was first established in late 2016, and more coordinated proceedings were created in 2017 and 2018. However, the litigation progress made in these coordinated proceedings has been slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disrupted some proceedings, including delaying the start of the first bellwether trials.
The first hernia mesh bellwether trials were scheduled to begin in 2020 in several coordinated proceedings. The first bellwether trials in the Bard and Atrium MDLs were set to start in the spring of 2020, with several additional bellwether trials scheduled to follow throughout the remaining months of 2020. However, those trial dates were all set aside, and the trials were continued. It is still unclear as to when the pandemic will allow major jury trials to resume. But these bellwether trials likely will not start before summer 2021.
Below is the status of each coordinated proceeding in the first half of 2021.
CR Bard Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Hernia mesh lawsuits alleging injuries from several C.R. Bard products were consolidated for pretrial purposes in federal and state courts.
The federal Bard cases styled In Re: Davol Inc./C.R. Bard, Inc., Polypropylene Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation was consolidated into MDL 2846 and transferred to Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Currently, over 16,000 hernia mesh lawsuits are now pending in the federal Bard MDL first discussed in our Summer 2020 hernia mesh update.
Rhode Island state court is also the site of a consolidated proceeding for hernia mesh cases against C.R. Bard, which is based in Rhode Island. In 2018, the Rhode Island Superior Court established a consolidated proceeding called In re Davol/C.R. Bard Hernia Mesh Multi-Case Mgmt., in Providence, Rhode Island. To date, plaintiffs have filed over 8,000 hernia mesh lawsuits in this state court proceeding.
The most common of Bard’s hernia mesh products involved in the hernia mesh lawsuits include the Ventralex mesh, PerFix plug, and Composix Kugel mesh. However, other hernia mesh lawsuits allege injuries from several other Bard products, including the 3DMax, Ventrio, Ventralex ST, Ventrio ST, Ventralight ST, PerFix Light Plug, Composix, Bard Mesh, Bard Soft Mesh, and Sepramesh IP.
There have been no bellwether trials against Bard in the federal or state court consolidated proceedings. Some bellwether trials were scheduled to occur in 2020, but those trials were continued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Jury trials are expected to start in the bellwether cases once COVID-19 allows.
Ethicon Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Hernia mesh lawsuits against Ethicon have been consolidated in a federal MDL and a state court proceeding in New Jersey.
The federal hernia mesh lawsuits alleged injuries from Ethicon’s Physiomesh Flexible Composite Mesh and were consolidated into MDL 2782 in July 2018. MDL 2782 was assigned to Judge Richard Story of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Approximately 3,200 Physiomesh lawsuits are pending in MDL 2782. The Physiomesh MDL proceedings are relatively advanced, having been formally coordinated in early 2017.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has also created multiple consolidated proceedings in Atlantic Court for hernia mesh lawsuits alleging injuries from Ethicon products. In New Jersey, this type of state lawsuit consolidation is called “Multi-County Litigation” or “MCL.”
In July 2018, cases alleging injuries from Ethicon’s Physiomesh product were consolidated into In re: Physiomesh (Flexible Composite Mesh) Litigation and sent to Atlantic County Superior Court in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Less than 150 hernia mesh lawsuits are currently pending in the Physiomesh proceeding.
In March 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court consolidated all cases involving Ethicon’s Proceed mesh into In re: Proceed Mesh Litigation and assigned this matter to the Atlantic County Superior Court. These hernia mesh lawsuits include alleged injuries from both Proceed mesh and the Proceed Ventral Patch. More than 500 hernia mesh lawsuits are pending in the Proceed Mesh state court MCL.
In January 2020, the New Jersey Supreme Court consolidated hernia mesh lawsuits involving Ethicon’s Prolene mesh hernia products into In re: Prolene Hernia System Mesh Litigation and assigned the matter to the Atlantic County Superior Court.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, these coordinated New Jersey hernia mesh matters were moving towards their initial bellwether trials. Post pandemic, when the first bellwether trials will occur is still unknown. Although Covid-19 has significantly affected the start of bellwether trials, the parties in these consolidated state hernia mesh lawsuits continue to move forward with discovery to the extent possible.
Atrium Medical Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Hernia mesh lawsuits alleging injuries from Atrium Medical’s hernia mesh products were consolidated into MDL 2753, In Re: Atrium Medical Corp. C-Qur Mesh Products Liability Litigation and assigned to Judge Landya McCafferty of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire. New Hampshire is where Atrium is based. The Atrium hernia mesh consolidation is the oldest and most advanced hernia mesh MDL, formally coordinated in late 2016.
The MDL involves several Atrium hernia mesh products, including the C-Qur line of mesh products, the ProLoop mesh plug, and the ProLite mesh.
To date, approximately 2,520 hernia mesh lawsuits are pending in MDL 2753. The first bellwether trial was scheduled to begin in May 2020 but was continued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several additional bellwether trials were set to follow in the remaining months of 2020. It is still uncertain when these trials will occur, but they are tentatively set to begin in summer 2021.
Covidien Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
Covidien, Inc., now a subsidiary of Medtronic, Inc., manufactured several hernia mesh products that have been the subject of personal injury lawsuits. Hernia mesh lawsuits allege injuries from Covidien’s Parietex Mesh, Parietex Composite Mesh/Patch, Parietex ProGrip, Surgipro Mesh, and Symbotex Mesh. In August 2020, the Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation denied an attempt to consolidate several cases filed in federal court.
Plaintiffs have filed approximately 150 hernia mesh lawsuits against Covidien and Medtronic in several state courts. Most of these have been filed in either Minnesota or Massachusetts state courts. In June 2020, all cases pending in Massachusetts state court were consolidated in Middlesex County and assigned to Mass. Associate Justice Helene Kazanjian.