An insurance company for C.R. Bard Inc. asked a New York federal court to let it skirt its obligation to cover Bard because the medical device maker did not follow proper protocols with the insurer when it entered into a settlement agreement with plaintiffs in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) alleging Bard’s transvaginal mesh implants cause serious injuries.
Starr Surplus Insurance Co. says Bard failed to obtain written consent from excess insurance carriers, including itself, before agreeing to pay millions to settle claims from a 2010 transvaginal mesh MDL.
Transvaginal mesh, also called vaginal mesh, pelvic mesh or bladder sling, is used to treat conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The devices have been liked to serious complications including erosion and protrusion into tissues and organs resulting in chronic pain, hemorrhaging and infections. Often, multiple surgeries are required to remove the device. Some women are left with lifelong complications.
Lawsuits claiming injuries from Bard’s Avaulta transvaginal mesh products began to surface in 2007, along with mounting lawsuits targeting other manufacturers of the device, resulting in the commencement of an MDL in July 2010.
In 2011, Bard issued an excess liability policy to Bard with a per-claim aggregate limit of $10 million. At the same time, Columbia Casualty Co. issued a products-work hazard liability to the medical device company. A year later, in response to claims submitted by Bard, Columbia reported it would treat all transvaginal mesh claims as one related claim, and exclude claims that were related to the line of Avaulta products. Starr responded by saying it reserved the right to contest Columbia’s decision, and noting that a number of exclusions in its own policy with Bard may apply.
Starr also claims that Bard breached the contract with its insurer when it failed to provide information about the transvaginal mesh claims despite Starr’s multiple attempts to gain information.
Starr also issued a reservation of rights letter regarding exclusions in its policy that may allow the insurer to skirt coverage of legal claims on Bard’s allegedly defective inferior vena cava heart filters, also known as IVC filters, used to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart.