JPMDL Sends 70 Hernia Mesh Actions to District of Georgia

Defective Medical Devices
Defective Hernia Mesh Litigation

By Sean Lally, Staff Writer

Streamlining 70 hernia mesh actions against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Ethicon, Inc., the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) created MDL 2782, which will be heard by Judge Richard W. Story in the Northern District of Georgia. The panel decided that all the actions involve similar factual questions surrounding the defendants’ product, Physiomesh hernia mesh, which plaintiffs claim can cause serious complications after being implanted. Those complications include the following:

  • Erosion of mesh implant
  • Herniation and breakage of mesh
  • Recurrence of Hernia formation

JPMDL Summary

According to the JPMDL, “Many plaintiffs more specifically allege that the multi-layer coating in Physiomesh prevented adequate incorporation of the mesh and caused or contributed to a variety of serious complications, and that the polypropylene mesh portion of the Physiomesh was insufficient to withstand normal abdominal forces.”

Defendants’ Argument

The JPMDL decided to create MDL 2782 despite opposition from the defendants who contended that the cases were too varied. The injuries were said to have happened at different times in relation to warnings given by the defendant.

However, the JPMDL disagreed with the defendants, saying “The Panel has rejected the argument that products liability actions must allege identical injuries to warrant centralization.” After citing preceding cases, the panel added, “[t]hough these actions present individual issues of fact, this is usually true of products liability cases and medical device cases, in particular.”

Responding to the defendant’s argument that the MDL would include baseless claims, the panel cited a previous JPMDL decision, In re: Cook IVC Filters, 53 F. Supp. at 1381: “the transferee court handling several cases in an MDL likely is in a better position—and certainly is in no worse position than courts in multiple districts handling individual cases—to properly address meritless claims.”

What Is Physiomesh?

It is a synthetic mesh material that must be implanted surgically using laparoscopic herniorrhaphy. Its function is to repair hernias.

The product is composed of five layers. First, there are two layers of polyglecaprone-25 (“Monocryl”) that cover layers of polydioxanone film (“PDS”). The PDS covers another layer of polypropylene mesh. The five-layer design is unique and has never been utilized for hernia repair before.

Defendants claim that the multi-layer design was intended to prevent problems such as adhesion and to facilitate the placement of the device into the abdomen. Plaintiffs allege that the five-layer design failed to achieve these goals. Instead, according to plaintiffs, the five-layer design made incorporation more difficult and led to complications.

The Problem With Polypropylene

Many patients discovered that the polypropylene mesh could not handle the movements of the abdomen. In many cases, this resulted in herniation – which broke the mesh – and recurrent hernia formation. When hernia formation occurred, this tended to cause the mesh to become deformed. Eventually, the defendants took the product off the market – that was in May 2016. Now, part of the plaintiffs’ task is to show that the defendants’ decision to withdraw the product was rooted in Physiomesh’s defects.

Physiomesh is just one amongst several similar products that have resulted in similar complications. Click here to learn more about defective hernia mesh litigation.

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