A U.S. District Court Judge created quite a stir recently when he urged medical device maker C.R. Bard to settle the cases to avoid billions in jury-awarded damages. Judge Joseph Goodwin told Bard’s attorneys that juries have already awarded millions of dollars to women who suffered severe complications as a result of the transvaginal mesh devices in cases against manufacturers including Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and C.R. Bard. He told Bard they would be well advised to settle cases involving their Avaulta line of vaginal mesh devices.
The Problem with Mesh Implants
Vaginal mesh implants are used to treat problems many women commonly face after childbirth such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. These are conditions in which weak muscles cause pelvic organs to sag and create discomfort. Although the vaginal mesh implants were marketed as a “minimally intrusive” way of treating and resolving these health conditions, the defective products ended up creating more problems for the women who received them. Some of the common effects women who received these implants suffered included vaginal infections, nerve damage, pain during sexual intercourse, punctured organs and vaginal erosion.
Rare Move by Judge
Goodwin told Bard’s attorneys during a hearing that he couldn’t imagine a corporation potentially facing billions of dollars in verdicts “wouldn’t find it advisable to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum.” He said he based that statement on the recent large verdicts and settlements involving other major mesh implant manufacturers. Goodwin went as far as to suggest that the trial losses could push Bard, which faces more than 12,000 lawsuits, into bankruptcy.
According to a Jan. 7 report by Law360, Bard has argued that comments by the judge suggest that he has “prejudged” Bard’s liability in this litigation. In their filing, Bard’s attorneys argue that Goodwin’s comments have caused prejudice and that a trial scheduled to begin Feb. 18 must be delayed. They say the delay is warranted because of media reports that suggested Judge Goodwin has “predetermined” Bard’s liability in these vaginal mesh cases. Attorneys also argued that this could taint the jury pool and prevent Bard from getting a fair trial.
Justice for Victims
As product liability attorneys who represent individuals suffering from the effects of these and other medical devices, we hope the plaintiffs in this case get the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve. According to court documents, plaintiffs have claimed that Bard’s Avaulta devices were prone to degrading and caused bleeding, bladder spasms, scarring and a number of other injuries, many of them permanent and debilitating. Many women have reported that even revision surgeries have not been able to fix the problems. We understand the devastating nature of these injuries that have prevented thousands of women from pursuing their dreams or leading a pain-free life after their procedures. The damages here often go well beyond the physical agony borne by the victims.
In such cases, plaintiffs may seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, revision surgeries, lost income, pain and suffering and emotional distress. It is our hope that these vaginal mesh lawsuits encourage doctors and medical device makers to give patients accurate information about medical devices and procedures so they can make the healthcare decisions that are in their best interests.