The year 2014 would appear to be a very busy one as far as trials of vaginal mesh lawsuits against Ethicon Inc. are concerned. There are already seven claims filed in different courts in the United States that have been scheduled for bellwether trials. Most of these cases involve patients seeking settlement for their GyNECARE PROLIFT mesh lawsuits under the multidistrict litigation (MDL) and multicounty litigation (MCL). Separate bellwether trials will likewise be heard dealing with Ethicon’s TVT mesh slings – vaginal mesh devices intended for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.
Of the seven lawsuits scheduled for trial against the business unit of Johnson & Johnson, three will be heard in West Virginia before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the US District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia. The other four cases will have Atlantic City, New Jersey and Jasper County, Missouri as the venues for the trials of the cases under the MCL.
Bellwether Trials in West Virginia MDL
The three vaginal mesh lawsuits slated for bellwether trials in West Virginia are among the pending cases in this federal court which stood at 14,970 claims as of the end of January 2014. This number may increase in the coming months as more women injured by the GYNECARE PROLIFT mesh implant are expected to come forward and file their complaints.
First to be heard in West Virginia will be the vaginal mesh lawsuit of Carolyn Lewis that is set to start on February 10, 2014. This will be followed on June 23 by the claim of Jo Huskey and her husband. Recently finalized by Judge Goodwin will be the hearing of Dianne Bellew’s claim on December 4, 2014. Should any of the above claims be settled, dismissed, or not ready for trial, the vaginal mesh complaint of Brenda Lehrer will be named as replacement.
Bellwether Trials in New Jersey and Missouri
In Atlantic City, New Jersey, the first case will be heard on May 12, 2014 before the court of Judge Carol Higbee. This will then be followed by another trial on July 7, 2014 involving a complaint against Ethicon’s TVT mesh sling devices. The third bellwether trial, involving the TVT Secur, will commence on October 27, 2014. Total number of pending Ethicon mesh lawsuits in this court has been pegged at 4,691 as of February 1, 2014.
In Jasper County, Missouri, a complaint against the GYNECARE PROLIFT +M will go on trial on June 9, 2014. This product was supposed to be an improved version of the GYNECARE PROLIFT, with mesh materials designed to address earlier complaints of patients. Even with this innovation, complications were still experienced that prompted injured women to take legal actions.
Results of Vaginal Mesh Trials
It will be recalled that the first GYNECARE PROLIFT mesh lawsuit was resolved in early 2013 with Linda Gross, the plaintiff, awarded a total of $11.1 million in damages. Favorable decisions in California and West Virginia involving similar mesh products were also handed down by the juries. These positive outcomes have provided encouragement the thousands of women injured by these vaginal mesh devices.