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Ethicon Litigation Dragging but Bellwether Trials Rescheduled

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Ethicon bellwether cases are scheduled to begin in March 2021 after COVID-19 delays.

Atlanta, GAThe Ethicon Physiomesh bellwether trial schedule, which was delayed due to COVID-19, has been confirmed by U.S. District Judge Richard Story in the Northern District of Georgia. The first hernia mesh complications case will go before a jury in March 2021.

The Ethicon hernia mesh multidistrict litigation (MDL) is taking place in the Northern District of Georgia for two reasons: it was accessible for domestic and foreign victims and witnesses, and two lawsuits had already been filed in the court when the MDL was created. And Judge Story, a Senior Judge at the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia, is presiding over the Ethicon MDL. The case name is In re: Ethicon Physiomesh Flexible Composite Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation, 1:17-md-2782

Bellwether Trial Dates

As of January 2021, more than 3,200 Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits are pending in the federal court system, according to AboutLawsuits. The bellwether trials, now rescheduled for 2021, were supposed to begin in early February 2020. Twenty-four cases were selected back in January 2018 and reduced to ten cases six months later. By September 2020 the cases had whittled down to four: Danielle Guffy, James Bovian, Jeffrey Smith and Diane and Jim Crumbley – the latter is first up. The second trial is slated for late March and the third early June. The fourth date hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Ethicon Physiomesh Hernia Mesh – A Brief History

The FDA approved the Physiomesh by way of its 510(k) process in 2010, which was introduced by Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary. Just six years later the manufacturer withdrew it from the market due to complaints: Hospitals reported high failure rates and complications such as adhesions, fistulas, and infections that resulted in pain and additional surgery. Some patients had to undergo a third surgery to remove the mesh and some mesh could not be removed at all.

Ethicon Physiomesh Lawsuits

The Ethicon lawsuits allege its defective design utilized multiple layers of polydioxanone film (“PDS”), which in turn coat a polypropylene mesh. According to court documents, the mesh has caused:

"...unreasonable risk of pain, dense adhesion formation, bowel complications, mesh shrinkage, hernia recurrence, seroma and fistula formation, and infection, whether from a prolonged and pronounced inflammatory response caused by the multiple layers, degradation of polymers due to exposure to gamma irradiation, non-conforming subcomponents, or some other mechanism."

Even when the Physiomesh device properly incorporates into the body, the polypropylene design is alleged to have insufficient burst strength, causing fracturing of the mesh and recurrence of hernias.

Lawsuits further allege that the selection and implantation of the Ethicon Multi-Layered Hernia Mesh by Plaintiff’s surgeons was a result of the misinformation, marketing, sales, promotion and direction by Defendants.


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