In December, a federal court judge made the "very rare" move
of warning C.R. Bard Inc. that it could be facing financial ruin if it
fails to settle thousands of
defective transvaginal mesh lawsuits against the company.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph R. Goodwin made those remarks at a December
9 hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West
Virginia, where more than 30,000 lawsuits against transvaginal mesh manufacturers
have been consolidated for pre-trial litigation, according to
The lawsuits claim that the mesh devices, used for the treatment of pelvic
organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI), eroded or otherwise
failed after implantation, leading to organ damage, infections, painful
sexual intercourse and other harm. The plaintiffs claim that the devices
were defectively designed and/or the manufacturers failed to warn of risks.
The judge pointed to a string of recent large jury verdicts in state and
federal courts across the country against mesh manufacturers, including
Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific.
"I can't imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of
dollars in verdicts wouldn't find it advisable to try to achieve a
settlement for a much lesser sum," Judge Goodwin said at the hearing,
according to Bloomberg.
Professor: Bard Should Take Judge's Warning Seriously
The judge also stated that he was surprised that Bard's shareholders
and those of other transvaginal mesh manufacturers had not pressured the
companies to resolve the pending mesh litigation.
"If I were a stockholder of any of these companies, I would be materially
interested in the fact that there have been multiple million-dollar verdicts
for individual plaintiffs," Judge Goodwin told Bard's attorneys,
Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who teaches
product liability law, told Bloomberg that Judge Goodwin's comments
about Bard's shareholders were "very rare."
Tobias, who has frequently shared his insights about ongoing transvaginal
mesh litigation with Bloomberg, said that Bard should take Goodwin's
warning "very seriously."
"[T]he judge is saying these cases could expose it to the kind of
liability that could be the end of the company and result in a bankruptcy
filing," Tobias told the media outlet.
Bloomberg reports that Bard is facing more than 12,400 mesh lawsuits, according
to a July filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The
company agreed in October 2014 to settle 500 lawsuits for $21 million,
the outlet states.
Judge's Warning Based on Recent Transvaginal Mesh Verdicts
As Judge Goodwin indicated, his warning to Bard was based on several recent
verdicts in which juries have ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in claims
against transvaginal mesh manufacturers.
A federal court jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District
of Florida in Miami returned one of those verdicts in November, awarding
a combined $26.7 million to four women who claimed to suffer injuries
after being treated with Boston Scientific's Pinnacle implants.
Bloomberg reports that the verdict was the first in a federal court to go against
Boston Scientific in claims involving the Pinnacle implants. It was also
the first to combine multiple plaintiffs.
"Boston Scientific better start giving serious consideration to doing
a global settlement of these vaginal mesh cases," Tobias told Bloomberg
after the verdict. "[It] reinforces the substantial liability they
are facing, and it's growing with each verdict."
One week later, a federal court jury in West Virginia returned a verdict
that awarded a combined $18.5 million to four women who claimed to suffer
injuries from Boston Scientific's Obtryx sling, as the
National Law Journal reported.
Other recent verdicts in defective transvaginal mesh lawsuits include:
$73 million verdict in September 2014 (later reduced to $34 million) in a Texas state court
against Boston Scientific in favor of a woman who claimed injuries from
the company's Obtryx sling.
$3.27 million federal court verdict in September 2014 in West Virginia against Johnson & Johnson's
Ethicon unit in favor of a woman who claimed injuries from the Gynecare
TVT Obturator, or TVT-O.
It should be noted that, in August 2013, a federal court jury in West Virginia
verdict awarding $2 million (including $1.75 million in punitive damages) to a woman who claimed to
suffer injuries from one of Bard's Avaulta transvaginal mesh devices.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries after being implanted with
a transvaginal mesh device for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse
or stress urinary incontinence, it is important to get legal help right away.
Contact the Maher Law Firm to receive a free and confidential consultation.