Charleston, WV: As 2013 comes to a close, thousands of women who filed AMS transvaginal mesh claims are hopeful that 2014 will bring them closure. American Medical Systems (AMS) is currently in talks to settle AMS mesh lawsuits.
AMS, also referred to as Endo (AMS is part of Endo Health Solutions, which is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota), is one of five MDL defendants currently discussing the possibility of settlements, according to court documents. (Find more information and FAQ’s here about filing in MDL 2325 In Re American Medical Systems, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation.)
By September 2013, transvaginal mesh lawsuits had been consolidated into six multidistrict litigations (MDLs) in the federal court system, making the number of claims against transvaginal mesh makers the largest pending litigation in the US. AMS was facing 13,500 of those lawsuits, just ahead of Bard and Boston Scientific, both with 12,000 pending claims. Coloplast and Cook face about 1,000 claims combined and J&J’s Ethicon has more than 12,250 pelvic mesh claims through June 30, according to a regulatory filing.
And liability lawyers predict that more cases will be filed in the coming year. In a recent press release, Rochelle Rottenstein, principal of the Rottenstein Law Group LLP, said the number of pending transvaginal mesh lawsuits is increasing steadily each month. That number “is not particularly surprising, even if it is alarming,” said Rottenstein.
According to court documents, Judge Goodwin, in an order dated December 6, added three attorneys (one of whom is Henry Garrard) to a plaintiffs’ settlement committee, which heads up the plaintiffs’ side of six different multidistrict litigation consolidations comprising almost 40,000 pending transvaginal mesh lawsuits. The committee will be empowered to conduct talks with all mesh manufacturers, including Endo’s AMS.
Some vaginal mesh manufacturers began settling mesh lawsuits early in 2013. Endo has already paid $54.5 million to settle many cases that claimed its transvaginal mesh inserts were defective. And Coloplast, which is based in Denmark, aims to have all of its 600-plus cases settled by the end of 2013. Bard has settled a number of its Avaulta mesh cases after losing two trials (Judge Goodwin presided at the first federal transvaginal mesh trial: a jury found Bard liable for severe injuries caused by its Avaulta vaginal mesh product). Meanwhile, Johnson and Johnson has opted out of settlement talks, and instead has chosen to fight court claims against its withdrawn line of Ethicon Gynecare vaginal implants. (In February of 2013, a jury in New Jersey ruled J&J must pay more than $11 million in damages to a woman who claimed she was injured by the company’s Gynecare Prolift – it was the first transvaginal mesh case to go to trial.)
AMS bellwether trials
A number of AMS vaginal mesh lawsuit dates have been scheduled in federal court.
As part of preparation for the potential individual lawsuit trials, in the spring of 2014 the AMS multidistrict litigation parties are slated to complete pretrial tasks such as discovery (the reporting of information between those parties) and identify expert witnesses and schedule their depositions, according to court documents (In re: American Medical Systems, Inc., Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation; MDL-2325, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia).
Next up is the third set of bellwether trials in the AMS multidistrict litigation, scheduled to start in August 2014.
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