The court overseeing the C.R. Bard transvaginal mesh litigation has put new discovery rules in place that are expected to streamline the discovery process in this litigation. The discovery procedures will specifically impact Collection and Preservation of Evidence in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) that was organized over C.R. Bard’s transvaginal mesh devices in the United States District Court, Southern District of West Virginia.
According to the Court, the new rules will provide that “discovery in this proceeding may involve the collection, division, storage, preservation, and production of biomaterials evidence for which special handling, division, storage, and preservation would be warranted.” The Order followed a stipulation requested by the parties involved in the MDL and involved a petition to the Court to enter an “evidence preservation protocol order,” that would be applicable for existing and future actions in the litigation.
The Order’s stated intent is “that all Material that has not previously been analyzed or tested … be preserved in a manner that permits the Parties equal access to, and analysis of, the Material. The Parties will not interfere with or circumvent the analysis and preservation of Materials by the Facilities to which any of Plaintiffs’ treating physicians have sent or will send the Materials in the usual course of business.” In short, the Order is meant to streamline the discovery portion of the litigation and continue to move the cases forward.
Once the pre-trial proceedings, which are detailed in the Order, are complete, the Court will transfer directly filed cases back to their appropriate federal districts. Those lawsuits that were organized by the U.S. Judicial Panel on MDLs in the Southern District of West Virginia will be remanded to their originally filed federal districts.
Most recently, a June 30, 2014 Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) filing indicated that C.R. Bard agreed to a settlement of more than 500 Avaulta transvaginal mesh lawsuits pending against the firm. A settlement amount was not disclosed at the time of the SEC filing.
In addition to these cases, the device maker faces thousands of lawsuits nationwide. Most were consolidated as part of the federal MDL centralized before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia. Nearly 60,000 more federally filed MDLs involving transvaginal mesh—this includes the more than 9,000 filed against C.R. Bard—were brought against an array of transvaginal device makers and are pending. These include actions brought against American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS), Boston Scientific Corp., Coloplast Corp., Cook Medical, Inc., Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, Inc., and Neomedic.
The lawsuits all similarly allege significant injuries following surgery in which vaginal mesh was utilized to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Lawsuits also similarly allege that the devices are defective and provide an unnecessary risk of injury.