Plaintiffs in transvaginal mesh lawsuits, as well as claims stemming from the DePuy ASR hip recall, will want to pay attention to some key trials scheduled to get underway in the new year.  The cases, known as bellwether trials, will be first to be heard by juries in their respective litigations and could provide hints about how other juries will rule in similar actions.

DePuy ASR Lawsuit Bellwether Trials Scheduled

The DePuy ASR hip implant was recalled in August 2010, after it was found to have an unacceptably high rate of early revisions.  Thousands of DePuy ASR hip lawsuits are now pending in a multidistrict litigation underway in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Ohio.   Earlier this year, Judge David A. Katz, who is presiding over the federal DePuy ASR litigation, ordered that the first bellwether trial would start on May 6, 2013, with a second to begin on July 8, 2013.

DePuy ASR lawsuits are also pending in other states.  One such trial, in Maryland, is scheduled to begin next month.    Judge Brian R. Martinotti of Bergen County Superior Court in New Jersey has scheduled bellwether trials in that state’s consolidated litigation for September 9, 2013 and October 21, 2013.

The DePuy ASR hip recall brought scrutiny to the entire class of metal-on-metal hip implants.  The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is now reviewing the devices, amid concerns that they may shed dangerous amounts of metal debris, leading to tissue damage, implant failure and other complications.  In addition to the DePuy ASR, multidistrict litigations have since been established for lawsuits involving an all-metal version of DePuy Orthopaedics’ Pinnacle Hip Implant System, as well as metal-on-metal hip implants manufactured by Wright Medical Technologies and Biomet.

Transvaginal Mesh Bellwether Trials Scheduled

U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia has scheduled bellwether trials in four multidistrict litigations he is currently overseeing.  The first trial in In re: C.R. Bard, Inc., Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation (“MDL No. 2187”) is set to begin in February. According to court documents, during a Status Conference held on December 6, 2012, the Court determined that the first trial in In re: American Medical Systems, Inc., Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation (“MDL No. 2325”) will begin on December 3, 2013. That proceeding will be followed by the first trials in In re: Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation (“MDL No. 2327”) and In re: Boston Scientific Corp., Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation (“MDL No. 2326), respectively.

The Honorable Carol Higbee is overseeing two consolidated litigations in New Jersey Superior Court, Atlantic County division, involving transvaginal mesh products made by Ethicon and C.R. Bard.  The first trial in the Ethicon litigation is scheduled to begin next month.

In July 2011, the FDA warned that there had been a five-fold increase in reports of serious complications associated with the use of pelvic mesh. The FDA also modified its previous position on the frequency of such complications, stating in the alert that vaginal mesh injuries associated with pelvic organ prolapse repair were not rare.  According to the agency, the most common problems associated with transvaginal mesh devices include mesh erosion, pain, scarring, and infection.

Published December 31, 2012 by