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Final Bellwether Trial over Bard Avaulta Mesh Begins in Federal Court

The last of the Bard bellwether transvaginal mesh trials will began on December 3 in West Virginia federal court.  The Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuit was originally scheduled to be tried in November, but the judge on the case issued a notice postponing it for a month.  The Avaulta line of vaginal mesh products had been used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and female stress urinary incontinence before it was taken off the market by Bard in July 2012 rather than comply with FDA-mandated testing.

Why women file a Bard Avaulta mesh lawsuit

There are more than 4,800 transvaginal mesh lawsuits in the federal court system against New Jersey-based-C.R. Bard over the Avaulta line of mesh, which many women claim can erode, leading to organ damage and painful sexual intercourse.  The complaints against Bard involve similar allegations that the vaginal mesh was defectively designed and sold without adequate warnings about the risks associated with it.

Bard officials pulled the Avaulta mesh off the market in 2012 after the FDA ordered manufacturers of transvaginal mesh to study rates of organ damage, infection, and other complications associated with pelvic mesh devices.

The lawsuits are pending before U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia as part of a multidistrict litigation.They were consolidated into multidistrict litigation with the goal of streamlining the pretrial process by conserving resources and judicial time.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, four cases were selected for early trial dates.  These cases are known as “bellwethers,” because they are designed to help the parties in the lawsuit gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence that may be repeated throughout each case.

Results of Bard transvaginal mesh trials

The first bellwether trial began in July 2013.  The plaintiff, a nurse from Georgia, won a jury award of $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant for its actions in the manufacture and sale of the transvaginal mesh.  The nurse had alleged that the mesh damaged her organs and caused other ailments.

In the second bellwether hearing the parties reached a settlement agreement during the first day of trial.  Bard agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to a North Carolina woman who said she experienced pain and suffering, permanent injury, and physical deformity because of the transvaginal mesh.  The third bellwether case was cancelled after the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the case.

Pelvic mesh lawsuits coordinated as MDLs

Judge Goodwin is also presiding over five other multidistrict litigations involving transvaginal mesh made by other companies, including American Medical System, Ethicon, Boston Scientific, Coloplast, and Cook Medical.  These companies face a combined total of over 30,000 lawsuits in the federal courts over injuries allegedly caused by the transvaginal mesh.

The legal proceedings for five of the multidistrict litigations are being handled in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.  There is also a multidistrict litigation for Mentor Corp., another manufacturer of vaginal mesh, which has been established in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia.

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