Hernia Mesh Litigation Now Centralized in the District of Georgia
The United States Judicial Panel (JPML) on multidistrict litigations (MDLs) recently issued a transfer order to centralize the hernia mesh litigation in the District of Georgia. The matter is In Re: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation MDL No.2782 Transfer Order.
Plaintiffs in nine actions and pending in five districts were before the panel for centralization of pretrial hearings in this litigation in the Middle District of Florida or the Southern District of Illinois. The litigation involves 18 pending actions in 10 districts. The panel was also notified of 49 related actions pending in 29 districts brought against the defendants, Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc., that suggest centralization in the District of New Jersey or the Eastern District of Kentucky or the Northern District of Georgia.
The panel found that, on the basis of the papers filed and hearing session held, that these actions involve common questions of fact and that centralization in the Northern District of Georgia will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses, promoting the just and efficient conduct of this litigation. The shared common questions of fact arise from allegations that defects in the defendants’ Physiomesh hernia mesh may cause complications when implanted in patients, including herniation through the mesh, recurrent hernia formation and/or rupture, and deformation of the mesh. Many plaintiffs specifically allege that the multi-layer coating in Physiomesh prevented adequate incorporation of the mesh, causing or contributing to an array of significant adverse complications, and that the polypropylene mesh portion of the Physiomesh was not sufficient to withstand normal abdominal forces.
“Centralization will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary,” the JPML wrote.
Not unexpectedly, Ethicon opposed the centralization; the panel rejected defense arguments, writing that, “We find, as all responding parties agree, that the Northern District of Georgia is an appropriate transferee district. This district is accessible for domestic and international parties and witnesses, and is centrally located to many of the pending actions. Two constituent actions and two potential tag-along actions are pending in this district. We assign the litigation to Judge Richard W. Story, an experienced jurist who will steer these cases on a prudent course.” The JPML created MDL 2782 to hear 70 hernia mesh actions pending against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon, Inc. from 36 federal district courts before Judge Richard W. Story in the Northern District of Georgia.
Parker Waichman LLP has decades of experience representing clients in product liability and personal injury litigation. The firm continues to offer free legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a defective drug or defective medical device injury lawsuit, including regarding the Physiomesh device.
Hernia, Physiomesh Background
A hernia occurs when bodily tissue suffers damage or weakness, enabling organs to push through that tissue and into an area where they are not meant to be located. A hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the stomach pushes through the musculature, bulging out of the esophagus, for example. Hernias mat be inguinal (groin), stomach, umbilical, femoral (outer groin), and ventral (leg near the groin). Hernias of the groin are the most common.
Hernia mesh is a medical device used as a patch placed over the bulging area to secure the body part back into its intended location. Hernia mesh complications that may follow hernia repair surgery may not always be explained to patients who are planning a hernia mesh repair procedure.
Many plaintiffs involved in the Physiomesh litigation allege that the multi-layer coating used in the Physiomesh did not permit adequate incorporation of the mesh, causing or contributing to serious complications. Plaintiffs also allege that “the polypropylene mesh portion of the Physiomesh was insufficient to withstand normal abdominal forces,” according to the JPML.
Physiomesh is a synthetic mesh hernia repair device implanted by way of a procedure known as a laparoscopic herniorrhaphy. Physiomesh was developed with a unique design incorporating five distinct layers: Two layers of polyglecaprone-25 (Monocryl) film covering two underlying layers of polydioxanone film (PDS). These, in turn, coat the polypropylene mesh, creating the five layers. This design has never been used in any other hernia repair product. The multi-layer coating was touted by the defendants to prevent or minimize adhesion and inflammation and to ease incorporation and fixation of the mesh into the abdomen. Plaintiffs intend to prove that the multi-layer coating prevented adequate incorporation of the mesh and caused or contributed to various adverse events.
There are two ways hernia mesh complications typically present in the body. One is by the body’s rejection of the product; structural issues created by the mesh product is another way. When the physical structure of the mesh leads to hernia mesh complications, the hernia mesh may not remain in place and may migrate to other parts of the body, causing pain and infection at the new site of the migrated hernia mesh. Hernia mesh devices are prone to shrinkage. When this occurs, the mesh pulls on the organs where the mesh product was attached. This may lead to organ damage and pain at the hernia mesh site. Fistulas may also form in response to hernia mesh. Fistulas are abnormal connections created in the body in hollow spaces. Seromas, or fluid-filled pockets, are possible hernia mesh complications, as are adhesions and scar tissue. These may lead to more inflammation and pain. Intestinal obstruction, bowel obstruction, organ perforation, and nerve damage have also all been reported as hernia mesh complications. All of these adverse reactions may necessitate the need for revision surgery to attempt to remove the defective mesh.
Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon ultimately withdrew the Physiomesh device from the market in May 2016. The plaintiffs intend to prove this withdrawal was a direct result of the frequency and seriousness of the complications experienced with this product around the world.
Filing a Drug or Medical Device Injury Lawsuit
Parker Waichman has years of experience representing clients in medical device and drug injury lawsuits. If you or someone you know is interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit over injuries involving a defective medical device, such as Ethicon’s Physiomesh hernia mesh product, contact one of our experienced product liability lawyers today. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).