There are currently approximately 83,000 individual transvaginal mesh (TVM) cases consolidated before Judge Joseph Goodwin in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The cases are part of multidistrict litigation (MDL) as ordered by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. As we have previously stated, multidistrict litigation is a consolidation of civil cases transferred from different jurisdictions around the country to a single United States District Court to achieve certain pre-trial efficiencies. The aim of this consolidation is to preserve judicial resources, eliminate duplicities in the fact-finding process, and prevent inconsistencies in pre-trial rulings.
Judge Goodwin currently presides over seven MDLs against various transvaginal mesh manufacturers. The MDL set up for Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon brand has the largest number of pending claims – approximately 28,000 as of Sept. 8. In addition to the numerous claims before Judge Goodwin in the MDL, Ethicon also faces consolidated claims pending in New Jersey state court as well as claims in various state court venues across the country.
Frustrated with the slow pace of litigation in the Ethicon MDL, Judge Goodwin entered a pretrial order on Aug. 19, 2015, directing Johnson & Johnson to begin case-specific discovery for the oldest 200 cases naming Ethicon and/or Johnson & Johnson as the Defendant. Specifically, the order mandates that individual discovery for each of the 200 cases be completed by Feb. 16, 2016. At the conclusion of pre-trial proceedings, the Court will transfer each case that was directly filed to a federal district court of proper venue. Cases that were transferred to the Southern District of West Virginia by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will be remanded for further proceedings to the federal district court from which each such case was initially transferred.
An increasing number of transvaginal mesh trials are scheduled to begin in the next six months, particularly against Ethicon. A trial involving Ethicon’s Prolift product is scheduled to begin on Sept. 28, 2015, in Bergen County, N.J. On Oct. 26, 2015, a trial involving Ethicon’s TVT Secur System and Ethicon’s Prosima Pelvic Floor Repair System is scheduled to begin in state court in Austin, Texas. On Dec. 7, 2015, a trial is scheduled to begin before Judge Goodwin involving 37 separate Plaintiffs whose claims have been consolidated for trial. The trial will focus exclusively on the issues of negligent design defect and strict liability-design defect. All 26 cases involve Ethicon’s TVT product used to treat stress urinary incontinence and all of the surgeries were performed in West Virginia.
Firms across the country, including Beasley Allen, continue to press forward in an effort to resolve transvaginal mesh cases against Ethicon as well as other Defendant-manufacturers. For more information, please contact, Leigh O’Dell, Chad Cook, or Beau Darley, lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section at 800-898-2034 or by email at Leigh.Odell@beasleyallen.com, Chad.Cook@beasleyallen.com or Beau.Darley@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Injury Lawyer News; Pretrial Order #192 (Docket Control Order – Wave 1 Cases), In re: Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair System Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2327 (S.D.W.Va. August 19, 2015); and Pretrial Order #184 (Order Consolidating Above Cases for Trial on Issue of Design Defect), In re: Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair System Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2327 (S.D.W.Va. July 1, 2015).