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Frustrated Federal Judge Urges Transvaginal Mesh Settlement


For the past several years, several manufacturers of transvaginal mesh have artfully evaded settlement, opting to extend the litigation process to its lengthiest possible conclusion.

Currently, there are seven ongoing vaginal mesh multidistrict litigations (MDL) proceedings in the federal court system, each involving one of the seven defendants facing millions of dollars in liability from women claiming insufferable injury as a result of the bladder sling implantations.

Transvaginal mesh settlement negotiations

These seven defendants include:

  • C.R. Bard
  • American Medical Systems
  • Ethicon
  • Boston Scientific
  • Coloplast Corporation
  • Cook Medical
  • Neomedic

Of the seven corporations, C.R. Bard has been on the docket the longest – since 2010 – and has done little to advance settlements with any of the 20,000 women awaiting a resolution to their transvaginal mesh injury lawsuits.

As such, Judge Goodwin – tasked with presiding over the Bard MDL proceedings – has appointed a Special Master to help effectuate a resolution as quickly as possible. In the words of the court, “[T]his Court, cognizant of the important public policy of encouraging settlement among litigating parties, has recommended all parties consider engaging in settlement discussions to determine if an amicable resolution of these cases is possible….The settlements announced by plaintiffs and [its competitor, AMS] demonstrate that settlement of these cases is possible.”

Duties of the Special Master

Ellen Reisman, the Special Master chosen to help with the Bard transvaginal mesh settlement discussions, was an integral component in the settlement of the AMS mesh cases, and has agreed to undertake the similar task of helping to resolve these matters with the Bard plaintiffs. In her role as Special Master, Ms. Resiman will work with the defendant’s counsel and representatives for the plaintiffs in order to arrive at a financial arrangement that will satisfy the injured plaintiff’s outstanding obligations as well as compensate for future lost earnings. Ms. Reisman formerly served as national settlement counsel for AMS, however all parties involved in the Bard settlement proceeding have agreed to waive any potential conflicts of interest. Accordingly, the court concluded that Ms. Reisman is the most competent and experienced counselor to handle the settlement of these cases, and is entrusted with the difficult task of bringing all parties to a sound resolution.

In the event a settlement is not possible, Judge Goodwin has reminded the parties that the court will begin remanding cases to the appropriate district courts for individual trials. However, in light of the average number of civil trials occurring annually within the entire federal docket – approximately 2,000 – the 10,348 outstanding Bard claims would clog up the federal court for years to come.

Transvaginal mesh injuries alleged

Transvaginal mesh, also known as a bladder sling, is a product designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and urinary incontinence in women. POP, which is often caused by childbearing or advanced age, occurs when the pelvic floor weakens, causing the bladder to protrude into the vaginal area – causing pain and discomfort.

The mesh, when working properly, is implanted to hoist the bladder and surrounding muscles into their proper place, thereby allowing women to enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle. However, as thousands of women have discovered, pelvic mesh has a tendency to erode into the surrounding tissue, cuasing perforation and other problematic issues. As such, a large number of women experienced painful revision surgeries, with some experiencing permanent damage to the pelvic region.

  1., Urogynecologic surgical mesh implants,

  2., Serious complications associated with the placement of transvaginal mesh products in repair of pelvic organ prolapse,