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Bellwether Hernia Mesh Trial Begins This Week, Will Set Tone for Future Trials/Settlements

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

The C.R. Bard bellwether hernia mesh trial is scheduled to commence this week.  This is a significant week for our Bard hernia mesh clients whose lives have been upended by injury and disability due to this bad medical device. There are approximately 8,000 other cases anticipating the results of this trial.

What is a Bellwether Trial?

In the law governing injury cases, a bellwether trial is a test case intended to try a widely contested issue. Several matters are selected as bellwether cases and are prepared for trial. They are then settled or tried and the results are used to shape the process for addressing the remaining cases.

Bellwether trials are especially common in Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) practice, where many cases have been consolidated for purposes of discovery and pretrial matters. In these MDL cases, it is not practical to prepare every case for trial. Bellwether trials are an increasingly common phenomenon in such trials today.

What is C.R. Bard?

C.R. Bard, now branded as Bard and purchased last year by Becton Dickinson, is a medical technology developer specializing in vascular, urology, surgery, and oncology devices. In recent years, over 16,000 product liability lawsuits have been filed against Bard throughout the federal court system and Rhode Island state court.

About the Medical Device Claims

Plaintiffs claim to have experienced severe complications and follow-up surgeries after undergoing hernia repair procedures that utilized Bard polypropylene mesh products and raise concerns about these products containing dangerous design defects that harm patients.

Studies have found polypropylene to contract and degrade over time following contact with patients’ bowels, leading to complications and breakages with the hernia mesh implant. With a mesh failure, the broken mesh and exposed hernia can lead to extreme injuries in patients that may necessitate painful mesh removal procedures.

What to Expect

With the thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits continuing to grow in number, the federal judiciary centralized nearly 5,000 claims, all pertaining to common questions of fact and law, as part of multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Southern District of Ohio Eastern Division. A bellwether process, which takes a smaller number of cases from a large group of plaintiffs to see how juries react to certain testimonies and evidence that will appear repeatedly throughout the hernia mesh lawsuits, was established by Judge Sargus. The bellwether process will also help the parties measure the relative strengths and shortcomings of the claims.

This week may determine the future course of Bard hernia mesh cases involving thousands of patients who innocently accepted the Bard hernia mesh as the best solution to their medical issues. 

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