Sunday, July 19, 2015 - More than 11,000 lawsuits related to defective transvaginal mesh manufactured by Medtronic subsidiary Covidien are on track to be settled in the company‘s multidistrict litigation involving the medical devices. The federal mesh litigation, which totals in the neighborhood of 100,000 lawsuits and involves large medical device companies such as Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, is centralized in the Southern District Court of West Virginia before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin.
The thousands of lawsuits set to be settled by defendant Covidien will be resolved pursuant to a Confidential Master Settlement Agreement made with the plaintiffs. The amount the lawsuit will be settled for are not open to the public, although given recent settlements reached with plaintiffs by defendants who have already reached deals the number is expected to be well into the millions. This settlement will affect more than 10 percent of the total mesh suits currently filed in multidistrict litigation. The settlement includes unfiled as well as filed suits against Covidien regarding the transvaginal mesh products at the center of the MDL.
The medical device at the center of the MDL is known as transvaginal mesh and is implanted in women to assist with urinary problems and pelvic prolapse. Recent studies however have documented widespread failure of the mesh devices. These incidents can cause a great deal of pain for a patient including infections, bleeding and a host of other side effects patients claim they were never warned of by the defendants.
As a result, thousands of women around the country suffered from these symptoms and many are now filing lawsuits claiming that the manufacturers behaved recklessly in the testing and marketing revolving around the mesh products. The FDA reported close to 4,000 incidents involving the mesh between 2005 and 2010. The defective mesh sometimes even eroding within patients, causing injuries to organs and surrounding tissue. Plaintiffs claim oftentimes the only recourse to alleviate the pain was to perform an additional surgery to remove the device altogether.
The latest report on the amount of claims filed against individual defendants in the MDL stated that Covidien was in the middle of the pack with the 11,000 complaints made against the company. Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon came in first with more than 18,000 claims, followed by American Medical Systems‘ 17,900 claims and Boston Scientific‘s 12,000. There were also three named defendants below Covidien‘s total. Prior defendants Endo and Coloplast elected to settle their claims before progressing in the multidistrict litigation. Coloplast settled for $16 million, while Endo paid more than $1 billion to resolve the transvaginal mesh claims made against the company.
To speed up the MDL, Judge Goodwin recently stated that a series of lawsuits filed against Ethicon will be consolidated and heard together later in the year. With more than 100,000 pending lawsuits in the MDL and that figure growing, there will likely continue to be more time and resource saving maneuvers ahead in what has become a massive federal undertaking. The remaining lawsuits will move forward in the MDL, which is currently organizing cases soon to be heard in bellwether trials.