A West Virginia federal judge overseeing personal-injury litigation against six transvaginal mesh manufacturers has set a trial-start date of March 10, 2014 for the first lawsuit naming Boston Scientific as a defendant.
The Natick, Mass.-based medical device manufacturer faces more than 6,400 personal-injury claims filed in U.S. District Courts by women who allege the polypropylene devices, which are designed to correct pelvic organ prolapse and some forms of urinary incontinence, are defectively designed and cause a multitude of complications, including mesh erosion, infection, bleeding, organ perforation, and severe pain. Those cases have been consolidated for multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Charleston, W.Va., under Judge Joseph Goodwin.
Because the mesh is designed to become incorporated with surrounding body tissue, removing it is often an extremely difficult and complicated procedure that requires women to undergo multiple corrective surgeries.
Boston Scientific and five other transvaginal mesh makers currently face more than 30,000 federal lawsuits combined. Legal analysts believe the number of cases could swell to 50,000 as more and more women experience problems with the devices. Thousands of other cases are pending in state courts.
The first four cases against Boston Scientific will be tried as bellwether cases chosen to represent and expedite the trial of the larger body of lawsuits. The first two trials involve plaintiffs allegedly injured by Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle mesh kit. The following two cases involve the company’s Obtryx mesh.
Four lawsuits against mesh maker C. R. Bard were selected to be tried first. In the first, the company was ordered to pay $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Donna Cisson, a 55-year-old Georgia nurse. Bard settled the second bellwether case just before its trial date.
Boston Scientific, Coloplast, Cook Medical, and C.R. Bard have entered settlement talks to try and resolve the outstanding claims. Johnson & Johnson, whose Ethicon unit is blamed for several thousand transvaginal mesh injury cases, is the only company not participating in the settlement negotiations.