Boston Scientific to Face First Federal Trials

In the last six years transvaginal mesh has become one of the most sued-over medical devices in U.S. history. Adding to that legacy is Boston Scientific Corp., set to face its first federal trials in two courts over claims from women who say they were injured by the company’s transvaginal mesh devices.

In the six years since concerns over the devices were first publicly raise, Boston Scientific has been hit with more than 23,000 suits in U.S. state and federal courts. Federal cases against it and six other companies have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia. Allegations range from the company’s Obtryx device, used to treat stress urinary incontinence, to concerns from women implanted with the Pinnacle, a device that treats pelvic organ prolapse.

Goodwin has said he’ll resort to creative tactics, like grouping similar plaintiffs for trial, to keep the cases from dragging on for decades, as litigation for other mass torts like asbestos and tobacco have done. No easy task since together, the three biggest defendants – Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc unit and C.R. Bard Inc – face more than 72,000 claims in federal and state courts, according to the companies’ regulatory filings.

Though not unprecedented, it remains unusual for personal injury cases involving medical devices to proceed with more than one plaintiff at a time, since individuals undoubtedly have different medical histories and product experiences. Boston Scientific fought vigorously against the consolidated trial plan, saying in court filings that each woman’s issues would be obscured by the group setting which may prejudice jurors against the company.

A company spokeswoman, Kelly Leadem, declined to comment specifically on the litigation but said in a statement that Boston Scientific is committed to patient safety.