Nearly 70 lawsuits against Ethicon over its Physiomesh hernia repair mesh device have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Atlanta, Georgia. Ethicon is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated the lawsuits in the Northern District of Georgia before Judge Richard W. Story.
Mass Tort Nexus reports that the consolidation has centralized the actions pending throughout 36 various district courts, with dozens of lawyers scattered among them. Although each case is unique, the complaints shared common elements of device failure such as herniation through the mesh itself, recurrent hernia formation and hernia rupture, and mesh deformation.
The complaints also claim that the coating used in the mesh device didn’t allow the material to incorporate into the human body effectively, largely due to the polypropylene material used in the mesh with multiple coatings that make up Physiomesh’s five layers. The plaintiffs also claim the multiple layers discouraged adequate fluid drainage, which led to a buildup of infection-causing bacteria.
Many plaintiffs also allege the device was unable to sustain normal abdominal forces, causing the device to fail.
Ethicon attempted to avoid consolidation by saying the extent of the injuries and causes will be individual to each patient and that its product wasn’t at fault. The device manufacturer also argued about the timing of the plaintiff’s injuries, claiming the patients were adequately warned about potential side effects of the product, and that the statute of limitations applied in those cases.
The JPML threw out the argument and pushed the MDL consolidation forward.