A leadership team is about to be appointed to move hernia mesh lawsuits through federal pretrial proceedings and discovery, while taking actions that will benefit each of the approximately 600 (and growing) plaintiffs.
The leadership plan was proposed by Covidien hernia mesh lawyers who will appoint 10 plaintiffs’ attorneys to oversee the burgeoning number of claims filed nationwide against Medtronic and its subsidiary, Covidien, in U.S, District Courts. The claims are rising rapidly as lawyers continue to review them over the next several months. With that insight, they have been consolidated into multi-district litigation (MDL) to be heard in pretrial proceedings by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris in Massachusetts.
To qualify for MDL, claims must be substantially the same, with similar damages and a common defendant. Centralizing and streamlining the process allows all parties to conserve resources and avoid conflicting rulings in pre-trial hearings.
Judge Saris in September 2022 appointed an Interim Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, comprised of two attorneys and a third attorney to serve as liaison counsel to the committee. These interim lawyers provided early leadership and were tasked with proposing permanent leadership roles for the Covidien hernia mesh MDL lawyers.
A status conference with the judge on August 10 of this year allowed the parties to update plans for bellwether discovery and coordinate depositions for corporate witnesses. The interim attorneys also submitted their leadership plan that includes appointing 10 lawyers for permanent duty. Two will serve as co-lead counsel to plaintiffs, one as plaintiffs’ liaison counsel, two as plaintiffs’ executive committee, and five as the steering committee.
If Judge Saris approves the plan, the leadership council during pretrial proceedings will be able to argue motions, depose common witnesses, review discovery material, and perform other actions benefiting all plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs’ individual attorneys will still be involved in each claim. Individual lawyers will argue that their clients’ specific injuries were caused by the Covidien hernia mesh implants, and they will also negotiate settlements in their respective cases.
In an effort to encourage settlement negotiations or other ways to resolve the lawsuits short of litigation, Judge Saris is preparing for bellwether trials. In these trials, some representative cases will be heard sooner than others to determine how juries respond to evidence and witness testimony that would commonly be used by plaintiffs during ongoing litigation. Bellwether trials do not bind later plaintiffs to these earlier verdicts, but they can help clarify what kind of damages awards Covidien might be liable for if all cases are tried across the country.
Judge Saris also retains the option to remand individual cases for trial to the district courts where they originated if claims are not resolved in the MDL sessions.
If you represent a client who is making a claim for hernia mesh injuries, make sure you are able to get their medical records quickly – contact our team to learn how.