Plaintiffs Seek Centralization of Defective Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

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Several plaintiffs, including those represented by Georgia’s Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., say that moving defective transvaginal mesh lawsuits involving products sold by Ethicon, Boston Scientific and American Medical Systems to the same federal court would promote the interests of justice.

In light of common alleged defects and problems associated with these products in general, these products are particularly appropriate for coordination before a single federal court.

Plaintiffs from across the country who are represented by the Georgia law firm of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., have filed a motion seeking to centralize their defective transvaginal mesh lawsuits in the same federal court with other similar lawsuits brought by other law firms.

The plaintiffs recently filed three separate but related motions with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The motions ask for lawsuits against three transvaginal mesh companies to be consolidated and moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia before Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin.

The companies named in the motions are Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL No. 2326), American Medical Systems, Inc. (MDL No. 2325, recently acquired by Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings, Inc.) and Ethicon, Inc. (MDL No. 2327, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).

Since October 2010, the same court and same judge has overseen pretrial proceedings in another MDL involving defective transvaginal mesh claims. The MDL is In re Avaulta Pelvic Support Systems Product Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2187), which involves products sold by C.R. Bard, Inc., or subsidiaries of Covidien, plc.

Transvaginal mesh devices pose serious national public health concerns,” the motions state. “In light of common alleged defects and problems associated with these products in general, these products are particularly appropriate for coordination before a single federal court.”

Creating the three new MDLs and transferring them to the same court would, according to the motions, “promote the interests of justice.”

The plaintiffs claim that centralization of the lawsuits against the four different medical device companies would conserve judicial resources, reduce litigation costs, eliminate duplicative discovery and avoid potentially inconsistent pretrial scheduling orders and substantive rulings.

The Southern District of West Virginia is well-positioned to preside over the pretrial litigation because of Judge Goodwin’s familiarity with similar factual and legal issues in the Avaulta MDL, the plaintiffs say.

Additionally, many of the plaintiffs may have received multiple implants from the different companies, and their cases may be intertwined, according to the motions.

“The cases that involve multiple products and defendants present a unique situation that militates strongly in favor of having each of the MDLs involving each of these different manufacturers’ women’s pelvic repair products before a single court for handling by a single judge,” the plaintiffs argue.

If the motions are granted, it would consolidate and transfer 83 actions that are pending against American Medical Systems, Inc., 41 against Ethicon, Inc., and 30 against Boston Scientific Corp. Those actions are currently pending in federal districts across the country.

Several of the plaintiffs are represented by Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., an Athens, Georgia-based law firm that has been actively involved in transvaginal mesh litigation in the U.S. since 2006. Henry G. Garrard III, the firm’s managing partner, currently serves as lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the Avaulta MDL.

The motions claim that the plaintiffs implanted with these devices have suffered serious and permanent physical injuries from implantation of the pelvic repair devices that have required additional surgeries and medical expenses and led to unresolved complications. The injuries include:

  •     Intractable pain syndrome
  •     Shrinkage of tissue
  •     Painful intercourse
  •     Degradation of the mesh
  •     Chronic inflammation
  •     Erosion of the mesh through tissue
  •     Infection
  •     Alteration of the physical characteristics of the vagina and pelvic area

The plaintiffs cite a July 13, 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Safety Communication to doctors and patients. The FDA stated that serious complications associated with surgical mesh used in transvaginal repairs were not rare, and that it was not clear whether transvaginal mesh treatment was more effective than non-mesh repairs.

In a white paper associated with the Safety Communication, the FDA said that the number of medical device reports for adverse events associated with POP repairs from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010 had increased by five-fold compared to the number of reports received in the previous three years.

In the motions, the plaintiffs point out that the FDA Safety Communication did not differentiate between manufacturers or specific products. Also, at a September 2011 FDA committee hearing to discuss the use of surgical mesh for the treatment of POP and SUI, the majority of manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products joined together to create the Transvaginal Mesh Working Group and made a joint presentation to the committee.

About Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C.
Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., is an Athens, Georgia-based law firm that has been widely recognized for its ethics, skill and professionalism by Martindale-Hubbell®, The Best Lawyers in America, American College of Trial Lawyers, Super Lawyers and Law & Politics Media/Atlanta Magazine. Since 2006, the firm’s defective medical device and product liability lawyers have pursued claims involving defective transvaginal mesh products, including handling attorney referrals from co-counsel across the country. For more information, call the firm at (866) 354-3544 or use its online contact form.

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