Transvaginal Mesh Settlement Talks May be Underway

Sep 30th, 2013 | By | Category: Legal News
US District Court, Charleston WV

US District Court, Charleston WV

Although unsubstantiated at this time, C.R. Bard and the makers of transvaginal mesh are said to be in settlement talks with lawyers representing 50,000 plaintiffs. This according to Bloomberg but not confirmed by any of the companies involved.

The last two lawsuits naming C.R. Bard filed in federal court both settled before the facts went before a jury. Both of those amounts were undisclosed. They were  part of the bellwether cases consolidated in Charleston West Virginia before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. 

Bellwether cases test legal theories in front of a jury and lay the groundwork for potential settlement talks.

Bloomberg cites “people familiar with the matter” to report that lawyers for Endo Health Solutions Inc, Boston Scientific, Bard, Cook Medical and Coloplast – all makers of transvaginal mesh, a plastic medical device inserted in a woman’s pelvis to keep organs in place- are involved in the talks. Interestingly, Johnson & Johnson is not reported to be involved in any discussions.

J&J is facing the largest number of product liability lawsuits filed over its Prolift and Gynecare line of transvaginal meshes.

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin

Judge Joseph R. Goodwin

Behind the Scenes

Judge Goodwin has reportedly been asked to appoint a settlement committee that would include attorneys Henry Garrard and Joe Rice. Garrard has been lead counsel on Bard cases. Rice helped negotiate the $246 billion tobacco settlement and the $9.6 billion BP Oil settlement resulting from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

During a September 18 court hearing, Judge Goodwin said that talks were underway “behind the scenes.” Bloomberg reports that Ellen Reisman, a Los Angeles-based lawyer representing BP was also at a September hearing.

MDND has recently received two inquiries from investment firms on behalf of their clients, both mesh manufacturers. The inquiries involved questions about the seriousness of injuries and whether the blame falls on device makers or implanting doctors.

Huge Numbers

Even without Ethicon, the number of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts is expected to exceed 50,000 making it one of the largest mass torts in U.S. history.  Compared to the  Vioxx litigation by one attorney to MDND, (here) the Vioxx settlement amounted to $4.85 billion. Vioxx was the pain reliever made by Merck & Co. that led to heart attacks and strokes and approximately 50,000 to 60,000 deaths.

The majority of women who have filed product liability lawsuits against mesh makers claim permanent and debilitating injury including nerve damage, chronic pain and an inability to resume work or sexual activities. They experience mesh erosion, infection and multiple removal surgeries. Some attempt reconstruction surgery.

Dr. Shlomo Raz, a urologist at UCLA see more mesh removal cases than anyone around the globe. He believes partial removals do not work to resolve pain. Of the 500 mesh complications he’s seen over six years, about 70% who undergo removal may find some relief while about 30% suffer permanent complications.

Very few women interviewed by MDND have had a full recovery, even after removal surgery.

Women who do not have insurance that includes UCLA may find themselves in a series of partial removals with varying success. Oftentimes a partial removal leaves a woman in worse pain suffering from additional mesh migration, pain and infection.

Bard and Boston Scientific face about 12,000 product liability lawsuits while Cook and Coloplast have about 1,000 lawsuits combined, reports Bloomberg.  The Danish company, Coloplast reportedly hopes to resolve all claims by the year’s end. American Medical Systems faces 13,5000 claims approximately. Johnson & Johnson faces about the same number as of last June.

Expect legal wrangling to include dismissals based on statute of limitations, meritless claims and improperly filed claims.

Bloomberg received no comment from mesh makers.

Learn More:

Bloomberg, September 30, 2013 Bard Mesh Makers said to be in Settlement Talks
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-30/bard-vaginal-mesh-makers-said-to-be-in-settlement-talks.html

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments to “Transvaginal Mesh Settlement Talks May be Underway”

  1. Sandy says:

    I am curious if they do all settle how long does it take to actually get compensation? Also, how will they determine what amount each person gets? Lastly after the lawyers take their fee are you taxed on that money and do you have to claim it as income?

    • Jane Akre says:

      Great questions for your law firm,,, but from a non lawyer, any award, I understand is not taxable. Generally these things settle in tiers of injury,,, first, second third which define a range of injuries. Again, I have no idea if this will apply to these cases… ~ ja check with your law firm on the specifics.

  2. Bejah says:

    Sandy, I strongly advise you to research settlement organizations. This is a big and complex business. As I understand it law firms contract with settlement companies that have very strict and complex formulas that are used to determine awards. There are a lot of details that you need to be careful of and the more you know yourself the better off you will be. It may be, for example, that you can opt to take a lump sum award or an annuity which would provide a certain amount per year for a number of years. Sometimes it is possible to take a partial lump sum and the rest as an annuity. It is my understanding that settlement money is taxable income but I may be wrong. To continue, assuming it is taxable, by taking an annuity one avoids the tax. So in this scenario, if you have a lot of medical bills to pay off now, etc. a partial lump sum would do that while not subjecting the entire award to taxation. I would ask your attorney as that is part of his job to help you sort that out BUT I would in the end make sure you do your own research so you are then essentially confirming what he is telling you. Another thing to be very very careful of if you are on Medicare or Social Security….receiveing this kind of settlement can have very serious consequences financially where your benefits are concerned if it is not handled well so please be careful and learn all you can about this and do not depend on word of mouth or hearsay. People mean well but do not always know all the rules (including me) which can change and tend to be complex. Most of all don’t start thinking about that check…it will probably be a lot less than you are thinking it should be and may take some time to come and it can disappear very fast if you are not careful. Don’t think too much about tomorrow, think about today. I like the expression from Eckhart Tolle’s book, “Live in the eternal present”. It is really all we have. Hope things work out really well for you.

    Jane, as always thank you for your reporting on this.

    • Jane Akre says:

      There is also the topic of subrogation- meaning the third party insurance carries that may have paid for some surgeries wants to be paid back. That is in an effort to avoid “unjust enrichment” or double dipping by getting a settlement AND having insurance pay your bills. What about the insurance carrier double dipping? in other words they collect premiums then get paid back for what they have extended you? Yikes. Please check your state’s insurance department to see how subrogation works in your state. We are working on a story on this and as usual, anyone with information on this topic is invited to write a column.

  3. Sandy says:

    Thank you for the information. When and if they settle, how will I know it has happened? Are you contacted by your law firm? What do you think the chances of settling could be?

Leave a Comment

We hope you find this a helpful resource. National News Editor, Jane Akre, began MDND with the hope of providing the latest news, information and perspective from the regulatory, industry and patient point of view, something that goes under-reported in much of the coverage of medical devices. The public is just now becoming aware that many devices do not undergo the same scrutiny as prescription drugs and are instead grandfathered in under an FDA loophole that has gone largely unchanged since the 1970s. As a result, patients become the post-market clinical trial subjects, and many suffer devastating and permanent injuries.