Cook Medical has just been added to the name of corporate defendants consolidated in Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in Charleston, West Virginia.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) added Cook on July 11 and with it transferred 13 complaints from eight different districts. Cook joins five other major transvaginal mesh makers and 23,400 lawsuits filed and waiting for their day in court.

Cook Medical thought it had an edge on the market with its biologic, dermis-based mesh. This made it a different product from the polypropylene (PP) mesh that comprises most synthetic mesh. But the women complain they suffered the same sort of symptoms as women implanted with PP mesh – infection, migration, erosion, nerve damage and other life-altering complications.

The other companies with cases in the MDL waiting to be heard include Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems, Coloplast and C.R. Bard. Four bellwether cases against Bard will be heard in the federal courtroom beginning July 8.

vaginal sling before it's neededThe last time Bard faced a plaintiff who was injured by its Avaulta mesh products was last June in California. Bard, along with her implanting physician, were ordered to pay defendant Christine Scott and her husband $5.5 million. That case is on appeal.

Cook Medical makes the Surgisis Biodesign Tension-Free Urethral Sling, Surgisis Biodesign Anterior Pelvic Floor Graft, Surgisis Biodesign Posterior Pelvic Floor Graft, Cook Urological Stratasis Urethral Sling or Stratasis Tension Free Urethral Sling.

Multidistrict litigation is the consolidation of lawsuits in one federal district court when there is a common question of fact. The plaintiffs in these product liability cases claim substantially similar injuries.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, Chief Judge Joseph R. Goodwin will issue all rulings in the cases, no matter which manufacturer, allowing for consistent decisions and a speedier resolution of the cases.

It is possible that in these cases, the damage amount awarded could be tailored to the damages the individual suffered as opposed to a class action where everyone is offered the same amount, regardless of their injury.

With two cases tried so far in state courts – last June’s $5.5 loss for C.R. Bard and an $11.1 million loss for Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson) in February – these early cases could forecast the easier road for the manufacturer to take – that is to offer a massive settlement that would allow the injured to get on with their lives in the best way they can.