Vaginal Mesh Settlements Urged by Judge
March 2, 2015 – A US Judge in Charleston, West Virginia is urging those involved in transvaginal mesh lawsuits to settle their disputes outside of court. The request is directed at mesh device makers and the women suing them for related injuries. There are more than 70,000 lawsuits against seven different manufacturers underway, making it one of the biggest mass torts in US history.
The request for out-of-court settlement came in early February 2015, when US District Judge Joseph Goodwin spoke to a packed courtroom filled with plaintiffs and representatives for key defendants that included representatives from Johnson & Johnson Ethicon, Boston Scientific Corp, and CR Bard. Judge Goodwin is overseeing the consolidated cases.
The reason Judge Goodwin wants parties to settle is because it could take decades to resolve all the cases. Victims of vaginal mesh implants could face millions of dollars in fees, not to mention the uncertain outcome they face by leaving the ultimate verdict in the hands of a jury. If no settlement can be reached, the cases will go to trial as quickly as possible, but the judge understands how much more efficient it would be to settle the cases outside of the courtroom.
Following the judge’s plea to all involved, there were two days of court-supervised meetings between representatives from the medical companies and lawyer for the female victims.
Manufacturers Remain Wary of Settling
The three major companies named in this case have already been forced to pay multi-million dollar awards to victims of their vaginal mesh devices. Users claimed the devices caused bleeding, infections, and other complications.
Despite the verdict so far and the ones that are yet to be determined, the companies stand behind their devices. Ethicon and Boston Scientific won a few of the cases brought against them and believe those outcomes could be an indication of what is to come.
A fourth company, Endo International Plc and its subsidiary American Medical Systems settled its cases already in a move that was praised by Judge Goodwin. The company set aside up to $1.6 billion to resolve the 20,000 claims currently against it and future ones that are expected. Additionally, Danish company Coloplast A/S settled a substantial chunk of the nearly 2,000 mesh lawsuits against it recently.
Ongoing Risks with Transvaginal Mesh
Transvaginal mesh dangers are not a recent development. The FDA first issued a safety warning in 2008 after receiving reports of adverse reactions associated with the transvaginal mesh devices. Since then, adverse events have been on the rise. Some in the medical community stand behind the devices, but many now believe the risks outweigh any benefits associated with transvaginal mesh.