Twenty-six lawsuits in a massive multidistrict against Johnson & Johnson unit Ethicon, Inc., alleging the company sold defectively designed transvaginal mesh resulting in serious injuries will be consolidated and go to trial, a West Virginia federal judge ruled.
The lawsuits are among about 23,000 filed against Ethicon over transvaginal mesh that will likely go to trial in November. The 26 all involve West Virginia plaintiffs who underwent procedures in the state to have Ethicon’s mesh implanted for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence. Thus, all 26 lawsuits are subject to the state’s relevant laws.
After the cases were consolidated, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, who oversees about 70,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits in seven multidistrict litigations against various manufacturers, denied a bid from plaintiffs to systematically consolidate cases by state.
The 26 lawsuits that were consolidated involved neglect and strict liability claims for alleged design defects with Ethicon’s mesh device. The consolidation would save the parties extra expense of litigating multiple separate trials. The fact that the lawsuits involved different doctors over 13 years was not relevant to the design defect claims.
Transvaginal mesh, which is also known as vaginal mesh and bladder sling, has been associated with serious complications such as tissue and organ damage from erosion of the mesh within the body, resulting in symptoms such as chronic pain and disability, painful sexual intercourse, hemorrhaging, and infections. Multiple surgeries are often required to remove the mesh, and some women are left with lifelong health problems.