Transvaginal Mesh Manufacturer CR Bard Inc. has been hit by a wave of product liability lawsuits over its faulty pelvic mesh products and defective vaginal-mesh implants, which could result in billions of dollars in damages, according to a Bloomberg report.
Judge Joseph Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia, who is overseeing the series of lawsuits leveled against C.R. Bard, reportedly urged the company, during a hearing on Dec 9, to pay damages and settle out of court.
Goodwin further warned the company of grave consequences – as serious as bankruptcy filing – lest management fails to resolve these suits immediately.
CR Bard, which reported more than 12,400 suits over the inserts in a July regulatory filing, faces significant financial exposure over the vaginal-mesh claims. These federally-filed lawsuits are continuing to move forward in the U.S. District Court, where a request was recently filed by the plaintiffs to consolidate 185 lawsuits as part of a multi-district litigation (MDL) against the company.
Reportedly, the plaintiffs cited similarity of claims as the basis of consolidation and further proposed to hold numerous consolidated trials in multiple venues. Such an approach was recently employed to move several similar cases forward in an MDL involving Boston Scientific Corp.
In its defense, CR Bard argued that the sole case which was eligible for trial in its Aug 2013 MDL involved the pelvic organ prolapse devices, not the stress urinary incontinence products which constitute about 70% of the cases in the MDL. Thus, according to the company, the consolidation ignores numerous factual differences and accompanying legal distinctions.
Other Companies Facing Similar Trials
CR Bard is not the only company facing a string of lawsuits over mesh products. Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific and Endo International are also battling similar cases.
In Apr 2014, Endo International’s American Medical Systems subsidiary became the first major manufacturer to settle suits against it for $830 million. The Dublin-based maker of vaginal-mesh devices has reportedly agreed to pay more than $1.3 billion to resolve most of the over 30,000 suits involving its implants.
Boston Scientific, which is facing more than 23,000 lawsuits over transvaginal mesh devices, was ordered to pay a total of $45.2 million in damages last month to eight women who alleged the company’s mesh implants of injuries. Following this, in September, the company was asked by a Dallas jury to pay $73 million in damages, marking the first loss for the device maker over its mesh device cases.
In the same month, Ethicon Inc. – a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary – was also ordered to pay $3.27 million in damages to a woman who had received one of the company’s implants. Thousands of vaginal mesh lawsuits filed against the Johnson & Johnson unit continue to move forward in the U.S. District Court, with the third bellwether trial scheduled to begin in Mar 2015.
The spate of multimillion-dollar verdicts against CR Bard and Goodwin’s comments may pressure the Murray Hill, NJ-based company to pick up the pace of settlement talks with the plaintiffs.
In the first large-scale settlement of claims over the company’s devices, CR Bard had inked a deal in October this year for some 500 of the cases, that’s reportedly worth about $21 million.
Notably, CR Bard has pulled its Avaulta line of mesh inserts off the market, while Johnson & Johnson has also pulled four lines of vaginal implants off the global market in the wake of suits.