Panel Orders Centralization of Defective Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

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Attorney Henry G. Garrard III of Georgia’s Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., successfully argued motions that asked for multidistrict coordination of pelvic surgical mesh lawsuits against American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific Corp. and Ethicon.

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Henry G. Garrard III

We argued, and the panel agreed, that centralization of these cases was appropriate because they share factual issues arising from what we believe are similar defects in these pelvic mesh products.

Georgia products liability lawyer Henry G. Garrard III announced today that hundreds of defective transvaginal mesh lawsuits from across the U.S. will now be litigated in the same federal district court.

In a February 7 order, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established three new multidistrict litigation cases (MDLs) against pelvic surgical mesh manufacturers American Medical Systems, Inc. (MDL No. 2325), Boston Scientific Corp. (MDL No. 2326) and Ethicon, Inc. / Johnson & Johnson (MDL No. 2327).

The MDLs consist of more than 150 legal actions that have been filed across the country on behalf of women (and, in some cases, their husbands) who claim to have suffered injuries after being implanted with vaginal mesh products for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

The JPML also ordered that the three MDLs be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia and overseen by Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. Chief Judge Goodwin is currently presiding over claims of defects in similar pelvic surgical mesh products in the In re Avaulta Pelvic Support Systems Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2187).

Garrard, managing partner of the Georgia law firm of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., joined other plaintiffs’ attorneys in filing motions in November seeking the transfer of the lawsuits to the Southern District of West Virginia. Garrard also argued the motions before the JPML at a hearing in Miami on January 26.

Garrard currently serves as the plaintiffs’ lead counsel in the Avaulta MDL.

“We argued, and the panel agreed, that centralization of these cases was appropriate because they share factual issues arising from what we believe are similar defects in these pelvic mesh products,” Garrard said.

“As the panel stated in its order, centralization of the cases will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of both the parties and the court,” he said. “And, because of his familiarity with the issues involved in the surgical mesh cases, Judge Goodwin is uniquely situated to preside over them.”

In the order, the JPML also noted that many of the lawsuits have been brought by plaintiffs who were implanted with multiple products made by multiple manufacturers, such as C.R. Bard, Inc., American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific and Ethicon.

“Our law firm looks forward to working with other law firms from across the country in moving ahead with these cases and pursuing relief for the women and families that have been harmed by transvaginal mesh products,” Garrard said.

Transvaginal mesh products generally are implanted in a woman’s pelvic region to reinforce the weakened vaginal wall for POP repair and to support the urethra or bladder neck for SUI treatment.

In recent years, concerns have arisen over the safety and effectiveness of the products, which were cleared for the market through a U.S. Food and Drug Administration process that does not require pre-market clinical testing.

In July 2011, the FDA announced that it had received 2,874 reports of complications associated with surgical mesh products used to treat POP and SUI between 2008 and 2010. According to the FDA, the vaginal mesh erosion and protrusion of the mesh through the vaginal wall were the most commonly reported complications. The FDA said it had also received reports of pain, infection, bleeding, vaginal scarring and shrinkage and emotional problems.

Additionally, the FDA said it was “not clear that transvaginal POP repair with mesh is more effective than traditional non-mesh repair.”

In January, the FDA sent post-market study orders to several manufacturers of urogynecologic surgical mesh products used for POP repair and SUI treatment, saying data from the studies would help the agency to “better understand the safety and effectiveness profiles of these devices.”

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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