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Judge Allows More Depositions in Pennsylvania Transvaginal Mesh Mass Tort

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The judge overseeing more than 100 transvaginal mesh lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has ruled to allow plaintiffs to conduct two depositions of Ethicon representatives related to a jurisdictional issue.

The depositions concern a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that limited plaintiffs to filing lawsuits in jurisdictions where defendants are headquartered or where their injuries are alleged to have happened. The High Court’s ruling could mean that 90 out of approximately 100 pelvic mesh lawsuits centralized in the Pennsylvania mass tort program would have to be dismissed because they were filed by out-of-state plaintiffs.

What is Transvaginal Mesh?

Transvaginal (pelvic) mesh is made of polypropylene and used to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). First introduced to the market in the mid-1990s, pelvic mesh is implanted transvaginally (through the vagina). The device was first approved by the FDA through the agency’s 501(k) program, based upon a similarity to other mesh products already on the market. As a result, many transvaginal mesh products were approved before they were ever tested on humans.

Transvaginal Mesh Injuries and Lawsuits

Millions of women have undergone transvaginal mesh surgery, and many such procedures have resulted in severe and sometimes even permanent injury. The pelvic mesh lawsuits make common allegations, including that the mesh has a defective design that erodes the surrounding tissue, leads to excessive scar tissue growth, and is difficult to remove if it does not function properly.

Five Pennsylvania juries have thus far ordered Ethicon to pay damages of $2.16 million, $12.5 million, $13.5 million, $20 million, and $57.1 million to injured plaintiffs. One jury ruled in favor of Ethicon, but the plaintiff in that case was recently granted a new damages hearing after the judge found that the verdict was not consistent with the evidence presented.

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