On July 8, 2013 the first of four back-to-back transvaginal mesh trials begins in a federal courtroom in West Virginia. The results of these trials have implications for Tennessee women who have been injured by transvaginal mesh products inserted in them for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
What do trials in West Virginia have to do with lawsuits filed by woman in Tennessee? The trials are part of an MDL (multi-district litigation) proceeding that has collected various lawsuit filed against various transvaginal mesh manufacturers in federal courts around the country. The result in these cases will give the manufacturers and the lawyers for the woman who have been injured an opportunity to determine how jurors truly feel about these cases and what value, if any, they assign to the harm suffered by the female patient and her spouse. Indeed, these cases are known as "bellweather" cases – cases that are used to predict the likelihood of success in other similar cases against the mesh manufacturers.
The results of the West Virginia trials do not legally determine the outcome of any case other than the patient and the manufacturer involved in that particular trial. Rather, they simply provide all involved with more data about how a jury evaluates the liability and damage allegations in such cases. Thus, the outcome of these cases will have an impact on any later settlement of some 30,000 cases pending against various manufacturers of these products.
The first manufacturer going to trial in the cases is C.R.Bard. Bard has already settled a significant number of cases involving its hernia mesh product.
Recent documents filed in court reveal the Bard Davol unit was advised that the material supplier that the resin-based plastic mesh made by a chemical company should not be permanently implanted in people. These emails have been filed in the Charleston, West Virginia court by patients’ attorneys. The emails show that an executive with Bard told co-workers not to inform the chemical company that the materials were intended for implants in human beings. Read more in this article from Bloomberg.
Bard did not want the jury to know about these emails and tried to have them suppressed. The judge determined in a June 4th ruling that the emails raised “a genuine issue of material fact about whether Bard was aware its conduct was practically certain to cause injuries.”
Watch this blog for updates on the first four trials.