Pelvic mesh makers look to settle lawsuits

Pelvic mesh makers look to settle lawsuits

Five medical device companies that make pelvic mesh implants are hoping to negotiate settlements for the more than 30,000 pending lawsuits they’re facing in the U.S., anonymous sources told Bloomberg.

C.R. Bard (NYSE:BCR), Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), Endo Health Solutions (NSDQ:ENDP), Cook Medical and Coloplast (CPH:COLO B) are all seeking to put the mesh lawsuits to bed, according to "people familiar with the discussions," the news service reported.

 Johnson & Johnson‘s (NYSE:JNJ) Ethicon subsidiary is not part of the talks, according to Bloomberg.

Lawyers for some of the multitude of plaintiffs want Judge Joseph Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for West Virginia, who’s overseeing the multidistrict litigation, to name a consortium of high-profile lawyers to lead negotiations on behalf of patients, the sources, "who asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly," told the news service.

The plaintiffs’ side of the table would include Henry Garrard, lead counsel on the Bard cases; Joe Rice, who helped negotiate a $246 billion tobacco-litigation accord on behalf of state attorneys general; Bryan Aylstock of Florida; and Clayton Clark, a Texas-based litigator. The idea is that Goodwin would give the group the power to negotiate on behalf of all plaintiffs in the cases.

"The liability seems pretty clear on these cases, so settlement makes sense," Carl Tobias, a product-liability law professor at the University of Richmond, told Bloomberg. "Given how serious the injuries are and the number of cases, when you do the math, you can easily come up with a multibillion-dollar settlement."

Each company faces a raft of lawsuits over their transvaginal mesh products, some of which have been recalled while others are still be used in patients. Bard is looking at more than 12,000 lawsuits over its transvaginal mesh products, according to the report; Boston Scientific is up against more than 12,000 suits, regulatory filings show; Endo Health’s American Medical Systems unit is up against about 13,500 claims; Coloplast and Cook are contending with about 1,000 cases combined, according to Bloomberg.

J&J faced 12,250 pelvic mesh claims through June 30, according to a filing. Spokeswoman Sheri Woodruff told the news service that, "Ethicon is now focusing on trying to efficiently manage thousands of unverified and possibly unfounded complaints," noting that the business will "request dismissal of meritless claims, including claims with no compensable injury, claims barred by the statute of limitations, misfiled claims, and improperly filed claims."

Last week Bard settled for an undisclosed amount a New Jersey lawsuit filed over its Avaulta mesh. The Murray Hill, N.J.-based company settled the 2nd bellwether case in the Avaulta multidistrict litigation in August. The 1st case against Bard originally went to trial earlier this summer, but was halted in July after Goodwin declared a mistrial, ruling that a witness broke his ban on mentioning Bard’s 2012 recall of the Avaulta mesh. The jury in the 11-day retrial of the case, begun July 29, awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages to plaintiff Donna Cisson.

Endo Health subsidiary American Medical Systems agreed in June to pay $54 million to settle personal injury lawsuits filed over its pelvic mesh products.

In February, J&J lost a bellwether lawsuit over Ethicon’s transvaginal mesh implants amid a federal probe of its marketing of the devices.

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