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Cook Medical Surgical Mesh Lawsuits Coordinated into Federal MDL

Coordinated proceedings involving transvaginal mesh implants just grew bigger, with a decision by a panel of federal judges to coordinate Cook Medical surgical mesh lawsuits into multidistrict litigation. The transfer order sends federal cases involving the Cook vaginal mesh devices to U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia. U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin will oversee the Cook proceedings.

This is not the first MDL involving vaginal mesh devices to come to Judge Goodwin. This court is also the location for coordinated proceedings involving devices manufactured by Ethicon, Gynecare, Bard Avaulta, American Medical System, Coloplast, and Boston Scientific. Multidistrict litigation is established when multiple complaints are filed against a single defendant, featuring similar allegations of injury. The purpose of the coordination is to streamline early trial proceedings for a faster, more efficient legal process.

The panel on multidistrict litigation state in their transfer order that they felt the coordination of cases to a single court would allow the West Virginia court to “continue the efficient supervision of pretrial proceedings in all related actions.”

The panel also agreed that transfer Cook Medical surgical mesh lawsuits to the court considering complaints against similar devices would be a prudent decision, eliminating complications that could arise from having multi-product, multi-defendant cases in different courts.

Transvaginal mesh lawsuit number against Cook Medical expected to grow

Since the MDL involving Cook Medical surgical mesh lawsuits was established on June 14, 2013, five complaints have been included in the coordination. Three of those cases originated in Alabama, while the other two originated in Kentucky and New Jersey.

The plaintiffs in these complaints state they had the vaginal mesh products placed as treatment for both pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The women allege they suffered serious side effects from the vaginal mesh products, including transvaginal mesh erosion. The plaintiffs also assert that they had no previous warning from Cook Medical about the possibility of such complications.

In addition to the five cases already transferred into the transvaginal mesh lawsuit MDL, the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation identified 13 actions pending against Cook, encompassing eight districts throughout the United States. This indicates that the number of complaints in the MDL is expected to grow, and possibly grow quickly as more cases are filed and identified as potential transfers to federal coordination.

Thousands of mesh lawsuits now pending

Currently, there are more than 13,000 lawsuits involving vaginal mesh devices pending in U.S. District Courts. In addition to to Cook Medical surgical mesh lawsuits, nearly 3,000 of these cases involve Bard Avaulta and more than 6,000 involve American Medical Systems. Another 5,700 involve Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, and more than 3,500 have been filed against Boston Scientific.

Bellwether trials for complaints involving Bard Avaulta are scheduled to begin in July, 2013, with trials involving American Medical Systems, Ethicon and Boston Scientific to follow later this year. Bellwether trials are early trials selected to provide insight into how future cases might be handled. In some cases, these trials might encourage defendants to negotiate pre-trial settlements as well.

Women in all these complaints allege similar transvaginal mesh complications to those listed in the Cook Medical cases. Common injuries associated with vaginal mesh devices include extrusion and erosion of mesh, recurrent infections, and persistent abdominal pain. Some women continue to suffer side effects even after undergoing additional medical treatment to treat the problems.

In July, 2011, the FDA issued a safety communication involving transvaginal mesh implants. The agency stated in their communication that complications involving these devices were “not rare,” as first thought. In addition, the FDA also warns that it is not clear whether vaginal mesh is a more effective treatment for pelvic organ prolapse than traditional surgical procedures that do not involve mesh devices.