Judge Joseph Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia is supervising a multi-district litigation involving thousands of the lawsuits filed over Bard’s pelvic mesh devices for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
"I can’t imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of dollars in verdicts wouldn’t find it advisable to try to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum," Goodwin said at the Dec. 9 hearing, Bloomberg reported. "I base that billions of dollars business on some of the rather large verdicts that we’ve had."
Bard and other makers of pelvic mesh products, designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, are facing 10s of thousands of lawsuits in state and federal courts. In November a jury in West Virginia awarded 4 women $18.5 million for injuries they said were caused by Boston Scientific‘s (NYSE:BSX) Obtryx device for stress urinary incontinence, including $4 million for "gross negligence." That verdict came a week after a Miami jury awarded $26.7 million to 4 women implanted with the company’s Pinnacle device for pelvic organ prolapse.
Those rulings and court losses by other mesh makers ought to spur Bard to settle the more than 12,400 such cases it’s facing, Goodwin said, according to the news service. Bard in October inked a settlement deal for some 500 of the cases that’s reportedly worth about $21 million.
"I find it to be a material fact that 5 different state forums have, on average, returned verdicts of over a million dollars per plaintiff," the judge said. "If I were a stockholder of any of these companies, I would be materially interested in the fact that there have been multiple million-dollar verdicts for individual plaintiffs."
"Bard has to take this very seriously, because the judge is saying these cases could expose it to the kind of liability that could be the end of the company and result in a bankruptcy filing," Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told Bloomberg. "It’s very rare for a federal judge to warn shareholders about the consequences of management failing to resolve lawsuits."