Our Atlanta product liability attorneys have been following the on-going cases involving transvaginal mesh litigation (see a previous post on the issue here) around the country. The big federal case in Georgia is against Mentor Corp. A recent news story discussed the case against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, for their Prolift mesh product. There are currently more than 10,000 civil cases pending against Ethicon for this product. The Ethicon case is in a federal district court in West Virginia, where civil lawsuits were consolidated. The cases will have impacts across state borders, and all these various cases will likely impact each other even though they are in different courts. Aside from this case and the Georgia Mentor Corp. case, there are four other multidistrict federal cases on-going, all involving similar products and allegations. Each of the cases has to be around a common factual basis and then it is coordinated by a single federal judge to oversee discovery and make it more efficient. If the cases go forward to trial they will be sent back to their original courts, in whatever state that may be.
The product liability claims for these transvaginal mesh cases comes from women who have been injured when the implants they received for conditions like stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse began to malfunction. Serious health problems include organ perforation, vaginal bleeding and scarring, abdominal pain, painful sexual intercourse and infections, as well as chronic pain in the pelvis. These symptoms have prompted doctors to advise removing the devise from these women, who sometimes have to undergo multiple surgeries to fix the damage and still have health problems afterwards.
In West Virginia, the first case of this litigation will go to trial on August 19, 2014 according to a recent order by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin at the US District Court. Which case specifically will go first will be decided among six lawsuits that the parties will have to agree on by January 6, 2014. It has been agreed upon that the plaintiffs side and defendants side will each pick three of the six cases. Some individual cases have already gone through the trial phase. One of the early cases against Ethicon from litigation in New Jersey ended with an $11.1 million award for the plaintiff, Linda Gross, in February 2013, which Ethicon appealed. In California, a victim of a different company, C.R. Bard, received a $5.5 million verdict. These cases show the momentum towards helping those injured by these products, and our product liability lawyers will keep an eye on how these various cases progress and how it will impact cases in Georgia.