The first in a series of four bellwether trials involving Kugel hernia patch lawsuits will begin on March 25 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Chief Judge Mary M. Lisi will preside over the cases in the federal multi-district litigation (MDL). More than a thousand lawsuits have been filed against Davol, Inc., manufacturer of the Composix Kugel Mesh Patches in federal courts.
Most of the cases allege injury due to a defect in the patch, which surgeons implant at the site of a hernia. The patches consist of two layers of synthetic mesh bound by a flexible plastic “memory-recoil” ring. These rings are known to break at their welded joints after they have been surgically implanted, causing patients extreme abdominal pain, fever, soreness at the surgical site, bleeding, infection, fever, a range of other symptoms, and occasionally death.
Next month’s trial involves a case filed by plaintiff John Whitfield, who was allegedly injured by the surgical implantation of a defective Mesh Patch.
Bellwether trials have become increasingly common in mass tort litigation to help facilitate the federal court system’s caseload. In a bellwether trial, a plaintiff or group of plaintiffs are chosen by the United States Judicial panel on Multidistrict Litigation to represent all cases based on their similarities. The results are then extrapolated to the remaining cases, which helps reduce redundancy while indicating and gauging common trends.
The other three hernia patch lawsuits chosen for bellwether trial also involve allegations representative of a larger body of cases.
Davol, Inc., and the FDA issued three separate recalls of Kugel patches between 2005 and 2007. The majority of lawsuits have been filed by plaintiffs who received severe injuries when the defective patches broke after being surgically implanted, thus requiring additional surgery for their removal.