CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The latest lawsuit over the implantation of pelvic mesh, which is set for trial Monday is one of about 50,000 cases pending nationwide that have all been assigned to a federal judge in West Virginia.
The cases have been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin as part of federal multidistrict litigation.
Women claim the mesh produced by multiple companies degrades and shrinks, requiring replacement and causing other medical problems.
Monday will mark the first time Johnson & Johnson goes to trial over its Ethicon-produced TVT Retropubic and Gynecare Prolift pelvic meshes. More than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against the company.
To deal with the magnitude of lawsuits, Goodwin selected several to serve as representative cases.
"The bellwether case process gives each side an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the cases," said Harry Bell, a Charleston lawyer and co-counsel for the plaintiffs' steering committee. "This is the largest multidistrict litigation ever when you look at the number of cases."
Goodwin is "doing a very good job of keeping all the lawyers on their toes and moving these cases along," Bell said.
Last year, after a 12-day trial, a jury awarded Donna Cisson $2 million -- $250,000 in compensatory damages plus $1.75 million in punitive damages -- finding that C.R. Bard failed to warn of the product's dangers and sold a defective product.
In another case against C.R. Bard last year, a settlement was reached just before opening statements were set to begin.