Multi-district Litigation (MDL) for Hernia Mesh Lawsuits

A hernia mesh MDL (multi-district litigation) is where a federal judge consolidates all similar hernia mesh lawsuits throughout the U.S. against a particular hernia mesh manufacturer. MDLs are a way to make litigation more efficient and expedite the settlement process.

Currently, there are active hernia mesh MDLs against the manufacturers Bard, Atrium, and Ethicon. If successful, the plaintiffs may be able to recover significant monetary damages to pay for their expenses including pain and suffering.

In this article, our personal injury attorneys discuss:

There are currently three hernia mesh MDLs.

1. What MDLs are

Short for multi-district litigation, an MDL is a consolidation of all similar lawsuits against the same defendant. MDLs are especially common in the context of defective medical devices where there may be thousands of injured plaintiffs.

The purpose of MDLs is to streamline the pretrial process, which includes:

  • discovery (gathering evidence)
  • motions from the defendant to dismiss the case
  • motions for summary judgment (where the defendant asks the judge to decide the case in the defendant's favor without a trial)
  • motions from the defendant or plaintiffs to suppress (disregard) certain damaging evidence
  • depositions (where witnesses testify under oath)
  • interrogatories (where witnesses answer written questions under oath)
  • negotiating a settlement to avoid trial

Instead of having thousands of judges making determinations in thousands of separate cases, the one MDL judge makes decisions that apply to all the plaintiffs' matters. Once the pretrial process is done, the judge will then allow a few of the individual cases to go to trial (called a "bellwether trial").

The outcome of these few bellwether trials largely determines the outcome in all of the cases. If the plaintiffs win some or all of the bellwether trials, the defendant may be more willing to negotiate and offer a generous settlement to the remaining plaintiffs.

2. MDLs versus class-actions

MDLs sound like class action lawsuits, but they are very distinct. The three basic ways they differ are the following:

Class actions are not the same things as MDLs.
  1. Class actions span the entirety of the lawsuit. MDLs last only through the pretrial stage; if there is no settlement, the MDL judge sends the plaintiffs' cases back to their original court.
  2. A judge needs to certify a group of plaintiffs as a "class" in order for a class action lawsuit to go forward; MDL judges do not need to certify the plaintiffs as a class.
  3. Plaintiffs can opt out of class actions; MDLs are usually mandatory for affected plaintiffs.

3. Bard MDL # 2846

The newest hernia mesh MDL is against Bard (and Bard subsidiary Davol). It was filed in 2018 and is based out of Ohio. The full case name is:

2:18-md-2846; In Re. C.R. Bard/ Davol, Polypropylene Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2846 (Judge Edmund A. Sargus, US District Court, Southern District of Ohio)

(This is actually the second lawsuit Bard MDL. The first one (MDL # 1842) was based in Rhode Island, and it ended in 2011 with the company agreeing to a $184 million settlement to most of the 3,600 plaintiffs. Bard also recalled its Kugel Composix patches, which allegedly caused organ damage due to manufacturing defects.)

The current lawsuit Bard MDL concerns the following polypropylene mesh devices:

Just some of the injuries these products' defects allegedly caused plaintiffs include:

Learn more about Bard hernia mesh lawsuits.1

4. Atrium MDL # 2753

The MDL against Atrium was filed in 2016 and is based out of New Hampshire. The full case name is:

16-md-2753; In Re: Atrium Medical Corp. C-QUR Mesh Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2753. (Judge Landya B. McCafferty, US District Court, District of New Hampshire)

The first bellwether trial is set to go ahead on February 19, 2020.

Common causes of action against mesh manufacturers are negligence and products liability.

Plaintiffs are alleging that the device's materials are causing complications. The polypropylene -- a cheap plastic -- can cause bowel obstruction and adhesion. And the omega 3 fatty acids from fish can cause an allergic reaction, leading to infection.

Plaintiffs are also alleging that Atrium improperly marketed its mesh as sterile even though hair was found in it. Additionally, Atrium allegedly failed to provide specific warnings about its meshes to health care workers and consumers. 

Learn more about Atrium hernia mesh lawsuits.2

5. Ethicon MDL # 2782

The MDL against Ethicon was filed in 2017 and is based out of Georgia. The full case name is:

17-md-2782; In Re: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2782 (Judge Richard W. Story, US District Court, Northern District of Georgia)

Plaintiffs are suing Ethicon for both defective design as well as failing to warn doctors about the risks.

The company's Physiomesh five-layer design allegedly precluded the device from incorporating in the patient's tissue, leading to such complications as:

  • hernia recurrence
  • inadequate repair
  • adhesion
  • infection
  • bowel obstruction
  • sepsis
  • death

The company's Proceed mesh allegedly suffers from the following five defects:

  1. Its ORC (oxidized regenerated cellulose) layer deteriorates, leading to pain, adhesion, and organ perforation.
  2. Its material tears too easily, causing surgeons to have trouble implanting the device.
  3. The mesh is prone to migrating, which can cause adhesion, organ perforation, infection, and bowel obstruction.
  4. The mesh may break after it is implanted, which results in bowel problems.
  5. The mesh itself may herniate and develop holes.

Meanwhile, the company's Prolene mesh plug -- which is a comparatively heavy polypropylene material -- allegedly causes:

  • debilitating and/or chronic pain
  • nerve damage
  • sexual dysfunction (which may result in the removal of a testicle)

Learn more about Ethicon hernia mesh lawsuits.3

6. Money for your injuries

The purpose of hernia mesh MDLs is to facilitate settlement negotiations as quickly as possible. Is successful, plaintiffs may recover hernia mesh compensatory damages to pay for their:

  • medical bills
  • lost earnings
  • loss of future earnings
  • pain and suffering

If the case reaches trial and results in a victory for the plaintiff, the jury may also award punitive damages. Punitive damages are usually much larger than compensatory damages.

By making the hernia mesh manufacturer pay large damages, the court is sending a very clear message: What the defendant did was wrong, and anyone else who behaves the same way may face the same fines.

Call a personal injury attorney...

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Call our personal injury attorneys at (855) 396-0370 for a FREE consultation.

If you are a victim of a defective hernia mesh, the attorneys of Shouse Law Group want to help you recover all the money available to help you heal and move on with your life.

We take care of compiling all your medical records so you never have to deal with records departments or paperwork. And it is risk-free to you since we do not get paid unless you get paid.

For a free consultation and mesh device case evaluation, call our defective medical device attorneys at (855) 396-0370. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just do not delay too long. We are up against the statute of limitations to bring hernia mesh claims.

Though we are based in California, Shouse Law Group represents clients from all over the U.S.

Also see our articles on recalled mesh devices, how to identify your mesh's manufacturer, and filing a lawsuit in California and JCCPs.

Legal References

  1. Baylon, Karen et al. Past, Present and Future of Surgical Meshes: a Review. Membranes 2017, 7(3), 47; doi: 10.3390/membranes7030047; Sternschuss, G, Ostergard, DR, Patel, H. Post-implantation alterations of polypropylene in the human. J Urol. 2012 Jul;188(1):27-32. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2012.02.2559. Epub 2012 May 12.; Cozad, MJ, Grant, DA, Bachman, SL, Grant, DN, Ramshaw, BJ, Grant SA. Materials characterization of explanted polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, and expanded polytetrafluoroethylene composites: spectral and thermal analysis. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2010 Aug;94(2):455-62. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.31675; FDA. 510(k) clearance approval of Vetralix ST; FDA. Adverse Reports on the 3DMax implant; FDA. Adverse Reports on the PerFix Plug; Moylan, Tom. 1st Bellwether Trial in Kugel Patch MDL Ends in Defense Verdict. LexisNexis Legal Newsroom. April 15, 2010; Kugel Hernia Patch Lawsuit Results in $1.5M Verdict. August 24, 2010; BioSpace. Davol Lawsuits to Largely End with C.R. Bard $184 Million Settlement. July 6, 2011.
  2. Elango, S., Perumalsamy, S., Ramachandran, K., Vadodaria, K. Mesh materials and hernia repair. Biomedicine (Taipei). 2017 Sep; 7(3): 16. Doi: 10.1051/bmdcn/2017070316; Vaz, M., Krebs, R.K., Trindade, E.N., Trindade, M.R.M. Fibroplasia after polypropylene mesh implantation for abdominal wall hernia repair in rats. Acta Cir. Bras. 2009 Jan/Feb; 24(1); Kong, Lai, Khoo, Rahman, Chin. Inflammatory reaction to fish oil coated polypropylene mesh used for laparoscopic incisional hernia repair: a case report. BMC Surg. 2016; 16: 8. doi: 10.1186/s12893-016-0123-8; FDA. Atrium Recalls; FDA Consent Decree Suspends Some Operations of Getinge Group's Atrium and Maquet Facilities. Endovascular Today. February 4, 2015; Complaint for Permanent Injunction, Case 1:15-cv-00041. Filed February 3, 2015; FDA. Class 2 Device Recall. Recall Event ID 65698; United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, In Re: Atrium Medical Corp. C-QUR Mesh Products Liability Litigation. Transfer Order. MDL No. 2753. Doc. 53. Filed December 8, 2016.
  3. FDA. Adverse Reports on Ethicon's Physiomesh; FDA. Adverse Reports on Ethicon's Proceed Ventral Mesh; FDA. Adverse Reports on Ethicon's Prolene Hernia System; Complaint, Cheryl Lecza v. Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc., BER-L-004559-18, June 20, 2018.

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