The Ethicon hernia mesh multidistrict litigation (MDL) is a group of lawsuits filed against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. These lawsuits claim that several of Ethicon's hernia mesh implants were defectively designed, and that the company failed to warn doctors of the risks of using them. They demand compensation for injuries suffered by the victims who have had them implanted, including for their:
- Medical bills,
- Lost wages,
- Lost ability to earn a living,
- Pain and suffering, and
- Loss of companionship for the victim's family.
The Ethicon MDL is compromised of over 2,000 hernia mesh lawsuits. The MDL consolidates these individual claims for pretrial procedures and evidence gathering. This speeds up the court process and leads to a resolution far more quickly than if the lawsuits proceeded on their own.
In addition to the Ethicon MDL, there are also 2 other hernia mesh MDLs currently pending:
- An MDL against C.R. Bard for their defective mesh implants, and
- An MDL against Atrium for their defective implants.
In this article, our personal injury lawyers discuss:
- 1. Where is the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL?
- 2. What judge is presiding over the Ethicon MDL?
- 3. How can I file a lawsuit in the Ethicon MDL?
- 4. When are the bellwether trials for the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL scheduled?
- 5. What is the settlement process for this MDL?
1. Where is the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL?
The Ethicon hernia mesh multidistrict litigation is being heard in the Northern District of Georgia. The MDL centers around Ethicon's Physiomesh implant. This particular hernia mesh device achieved such poor results that Ethicon voluntarily pulled it from the market in May, 2016.1 The full case name is:
- In re: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation, 1:17-md-2782.
The Northern District of Georgia has 4 court locations, in:
- Newnan, and
The judge hearing the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL, however, only has chambers in 2 of these courts: Atlanta and Gainesville. The vast majority of the action in the MDL has come from the Atlanta court. This court is located inside the Richard B. Russell Federal Building at 75 Ted Turner Drive.
This court was chosen for the Ethicon MDL for 2 reasons:
- It was accessible for domestic and foreign victims and witnesses, and
- There were already 2 lawsuits filed in the court at the time of the creation of the MDL.2
2. What judge is presiding over the Ethicon MDL?
The Honorable Richard W. Story is presiding over the Ethicon MDL. He is a Senior Judge at the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia.
Judge Story was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in September, 1997. He was confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate in January, 1998. In December, 2018, he assumed senior status, allowing him to take a reduced caseload.
3. How can I file a lawsuit in the Ethicon MDL?
If you have had an Ethicon hernia mesh product implanted and have suffered from its side effects, you could be eligible to join the MDL. Talking with an attorney is the best way to find out if you could be entitled to compensation and take the necessary steps to join the existing MDL.
Joining the MDL requires you to fill out and electronically file a 33-page Plaintiff Profile Form, as well as other supporting documents.3 This means providing information like:
- Identifying information like your name, address, contact information, and social security number,
- Whether you are pursuing compensation for loss of consortium or lost wages,
- When and where you got an Ethicon Physiomesh device implanted,
- Who performed the surgery,
- Why you had a hernia mesh device implanted,
- Whether you underwent a removal procedure,
- What side effects you suffered,
- Any ongoing problems you are dealing with from the implant,
- A list of the doctors you have seen since the mesh was implanted, and
- Your medical history.4
This information has to be provided before the statute of limitations expires in your state. The MDL does not use Georgia's statute of limitations. Instead, it uses the one that would have applied if you had filed your lawsuit, locally. Filing your lawsuit after this statute of limitations has expired can end with your case being dismissed.
4. When are the bellwether trials for the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL scheduled?
Bellwether trials for the Ethicon hernia mesh MDL are scheduled to begin on February 3, 2020.5
The cases that go to a bellwether trial will be pulled from a selection of 24 that were presented to the court by the plaintiffs and defendants on January 11, 2018. Those cases were whittled down to 10 on June 22, 2018.6
Bellwether trials like these have become a fixture of multidistrict litigation. Like a test case, a bellwether trial provides the court and both sides' attorneys an idea of how a jury will react to the claims in the lawsuit. The jury's response is used as a signal for subsequent settlement negotiations. If the jury sides with the victim in bellwether cases and awards lots of compensation, the defendant will be willing to settle the rest of the MDL for a higher amount.
As bellwether trials end, settlement negotiations speed up as plaintiffs and defendants gain a better understanding of how well their case would be heard, were it to go to trial.
5. What is the settlement process for this MDL?
As evidence is gathered about the defects in Ethicon's Physiomesh implants, lawyers for plaintiffs and for Ethicon discuss settling the cases in the MDL. If they reach an agreement, it would create a global settlement that would end the MDL.
Once a global settlement is reached, it is up to the plaintiffs' lawyers to distribute the pool of money to the victims. They often do this using a plaintiff fact sheet that is designed to calculate the losses each victim has suffered. They then use a grid settlement or a matrix settlement to determine how much of the global settlement each victim should receive, based on their fact sheet.
Certain factors often become very important, like a victim's:
- Marital status, and
- Medical history.
If the MDL settles, the amount that a victim recovers would aim to compensate them for the losses they sustained. This includes:
- Past medical bills and anticipated medical expenses, including for a mesh removal procedure or ongoing care to treat infections,
- Lost wages and lowered ability to earn an income,
- Mental anguish and physical pain, including for the chronic pain that is a common side effect of Ethicon's Physiomesh, and
- Loss of companionship for the victim's loved ones.
MDL settlements, though, rarely include punitive damages for the defendant's egregious conduct. In fact, most MDL settlements include a statement by defendants that explicitly claims they did nothing wrong and are not admitting guilt.
Call us for help…
You could be entitled to compensation if you have had an Ethicon hernia mesh implanted and have suffered side effects. Contact our personal injury lawyers today to find out if you are eligible to join the ongoing MDL against Ethicon.
See note 5.