The complicated nature of multi-district transvaginal mesh litigation

Women suffering from the debilitating effects of defective transvaginal medical mesh to treat such conditions as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI) are getting closer to having their day in federal court. Although some TVM cases have been filed in state courts, most of these cases have been filed in federal court in multi-district litigation panels known as MDLs. The first federal "bellwether" case dealing with faulty mesh products is scheduled to start in the next few months in a federal court in Charleston, West Virginia.

What Is A Bellwether Case?

Bellwether trials are a way to evaluate the strength of the evidence establishing the responsibility of companies that manufactured mesh products for injuries suffered by women whose implants have failed, as well as how much compensation victims should receive for their injuries. Bellwether trials involve small groups of plaintiffs selected from the much larger group of pending cases.

The theory behind Bellwether cases is that they help the parties predict how other trials on the same issues would be decided and give them a rational basis for determining the value of other cases for settlement purposes.

For example, transvaginal mesh products have allegedly caused a wide range of complications and injuries, including erosion of the vaginal wall, painful urination, inflammation and infection. Since those injuries all have their own set of unique causes and effects, the court could choose to pick a few women suffering from injuries linked to faulty mesh to represent the larger group of women dealing with that same issue. Once that case or group of cases is resolved, the parties could choose to settle claims with other victims, dismiss the suit altogether or move forward with trials involving other victims.

What Is Multi-district Litigation?

Another term commonly used when discussing transvaginal and pelvic floor mesh cases is "multi-district litigation". Outside of lawyers themselves, few people actually know what that term means, but it is just a way to consolidate — in a federal courtroom — multiple cases that have been filed in a number of jurisdictions around the country under the supervision of a single judge. It is a way to help insure judicial efficiency and to prevent contradictory verdicts in different jurisdictions.

Even with the bellwether trials starting in February of 2013, it will likely be a long time before all the issues about transvaginal surgical mesh have been resolved, so it is not too late for victims to come forward. If you or a loved one has been injured by a pelvic mesh procedure or complications from eroding/dissolving mesh, speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your rights and legal options.