Class Action Lawsuits Not Advisable for Vaginal Mesh Complaints
Joining a class action lawsuit is not usually advisable when an individual has suffered an injury due to a faulty medical device like vaginal mesh. Many women have undergone surgical procedures during which vaginal mesh was implanted in order to correct pelvic organ prolapse (POP), or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), only to sustain varying degrees of injury. Because each woman’s experience is different, joining a class action lawsuit is not the ideal legal solution to obtaining adequate individual compensation for pain, suffering, lost wages, and other hardships.
Class action lawsuits are appropriate when a large number of individuals join together to sue another person or company after sustaining the very same injury at the hands of a product made by one manufacturer. A class action saves time and money by consolidating a large number of cases into a single complaint.
Vaginal Mesh Complaints Have Been Consolidated Into ‘Multidistrict Litigation’
In the case of many personal injury lawsuits, multidistrict litigation (MDL) is usually the best legal approach to handling a large number of complaints brought by individuals who have experienced the same type of injury, but with varying degrees of severity. Cases consolidated into an MDL have many of the benefits of a class action, but the cases maintain their individuality. The cases are consolidated for pre-trial purposes in order to speed up the process, but when the time comes for them to go to trial, each will be heard individually before the judge presiding over the entire group of complaints.
To date, there are six vaginal mesh MDLs against different manufacturers, with cases scheduled to go to trial in early 2013. There are also individual cases pending in state courts nationwide. There are currently no class actions filed against any one medical device manufacturer for injuries sustained from vaginal mesh.
State and Federal Mesh Inury Cases Proceed at Steady Pace
There have been several developments in the various state and federal vaginal mesh actions pending around the country. In the multidistrict litigation (MDL) actions pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia—MDL No. 2187 (against Bard), MDL No. 2387 (against Coloplast), MDL No. 2326 (against Boston Scientific), and MDL No. 2187 (against Ethicon)—the following recently transpired:
(1) A status conference has been scheduled for August 1.
(2) To stem the onslaught of vaginal mesh injury cases that the Southern District of West Virginia expects to be filed in the final weeks before the statute of limitations on those cases runs out, the court on May 29, 2013, entered Pretrial Order #80, which provides that all new vaginal mesh claims filed between the date of the order and Oct. 1, 2013, “shall be deemed filed as of that date. No further filing in the court is necessary during that period of time.”
Cases Against Ethicon Continue to Pile Up in N.J. State Court
Meanwhile, the cases against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit alleging injuries from the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh kit in New Jersey’s Atlantic County Superior Court continue to mount. When the first case against Ethicon in that court went to trial in January 2013, there were approximately 1,800 cases pending. The plaintiff in that case, Linda Gross, has since been awarded more than $11 million, and, according to the court’s website, the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh injury cases pending in New Jersey Superior Court now number more than 2,800.