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Judge Urges C.R. Bard to Settle Vaginal-Mesh Cases

Dec 16, 2014

A federal judge is urging device maker C.R. Bard to settle thousands of lawsuits over defective vaginal-mesh implants because juries may award billions of dollars in damages.

At a December 9th hearing in Charleston, West Virginia, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin said, “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 based his estimate of billions in damages on some of “the rather large verdicts” in cases already tried, Bloomberg News reports. Goodwin said the spate of multimillion-dollar verdicts against Bard and other makers of the implants should provide an incentive to resolve the more than 12,000 cases against the company.

More than 30,000 implant suits against Bard and other manufacturers have been consolidated before Goodwin so he can oversee pretrial information exchanges. Consolidations cut down litigation costs. In October the company agreed to settle 500 suits for about $21 million in its first large-scale resolution of vaginal-mesh cases, Bloomberg News reports.

Transvaginal mesh implants are intended to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), by providing additional support to weakened pelvic walls. But in their lawsuits, woman have alleged a variety of injuries and complications from the mesh devices, including mesh erosion (extrusion) through the vagina, infection, bleeding, organ perforation, urinary problems, and pain during sexual intercourse.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Bard, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, and other makers of mesh devices to study rates of organ damage and complications linked to the devices after thousands of women sued over the implants. The FDA has said implants should be subject to stricter safety requirements, according to Bloomberg News. Johnson & Johnson has pulled four lines of mesh implants off the market, and Bard has pulled its Avaulta implants off the market, Bloomberg News reports.

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