Judge Goodwin of the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (who is presiding over the multi-district litigation (MDL)) where all of the vaginal mesh lawsuits are currently consolidated has outlined the process for choosing the first bellweather trials against each of the 4 manufacturers currently facing suit. Bellweather trials are test trials chosen from the 1500 or so cases against each manufacturer. Those trials help both sides gauge how juries are going to react, and both sides use these results to inform their settlement position. The reality is, less than 5% of these cases will ever reach trial, so once these early bellweather trials are litigated, all sides will come together and resolve most of the cases.
In the first trial against Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon Gynecare Mesh, the jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $3.5M. They also awarded a staggering $7.8M in punitive damages. Punitive damage is an award intended to punish J&J for its conduct and deter future similar conduct, in contrast to the compensatory award which is intended only to compensate the plaintiff.
Bard, another mesh manufacturer suffered a $5.5M hit in the first of its Avaulta bellweather trials in California. By contrast, Bard's Kugel mesh trials have gone more favorably for the manufacturer after it fared much better in those bellweather trials. As a result of the disappointing results from the plaintiff's perspective, those suits are settling for an average of $70,000.
Judge Goodwin has ordered each side to choose 40 cases, meaning the defense would select 40 cases, and the plaintiffs would select 40 cases, from among the 1500 or so pending against each manufacturer. Judge Goodwin will then select 5 cases from that pool of 80 as the bellweather trials. This process will be followed for claims involving Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon, and Boston Scientific. Though Judge Goodwin has ordered the same process for claims involving American Medical Systems, he has only ordered a total pool of 30 cases selected (meaning 15 from each side). The sides must choose only cases that were filed prior to January 1, 2013, and the expectation is that the first of the bellweather trials will take place around December 2013.
If you or a loved one have had any of these mesh products implanted as a result of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence issues, contact a skilled Georgia Vaginal Mesh Attorney for a free consultation. We are currently litigating pelvic organ prolapse claims and we can advise you of your rights and the compensation you may be entitled to receive. Georgia has strict time limitations that must be adhered to, so contact us today to ensure you do not lose your right to compensation.