Bard Offers $184M To Settle Hernia Patch Suits
Law360, New York (July 1, 2011) — C.R. Bard Inc. said Thursday it had tentatively agreed to pay $184 million to settle the majority of claims in a Rhode Island multidistrict litigation over allegedly defective hernia patches.
In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the medical equipment manufacturer said it had reached agreements in principle with scores of plaintiffs who claim they suffered significant injuries because of faulty Composix Kugel surgical mesh patches manufactured by Bard subsidiary Davol Inc.
“It’s been a hard, long fight for four years by both sides,” Jon Conlin, a Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris PC attorney representing plaintiffs in the MDL, said Friday. “This is a good, fair settlement for the plaintiffs that are involved.”
Bard, which faces more than 3,000 suits in state and federal courts over Kugel and other hernia repair products, did not admit liability as part of the proposed settlement, Conlin said.
The tentative settlement also does not affect a number of pending putative class actions, Bard said in the SEC filing.
Bard’s agreements with the various plaintiffs’ law firms are subject to requirements that a minimum number of their respective clients participate in the proposed settlement, the filing said.
Representatives for the company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The Kugel patches, used to fix abdominal hernias, contain memory recoil rings that allow them to be folded during insertion and then spring open and lay flat once in their desired location. Plaintiffs claimed that Bard failed to validate the Kugel patch’s design before placing the product on the market.
According to Conlin, the rings could break or buckle, causing abscesses, fistulas and other medical complications.
Bard had argued that such complications were known risks involved with the use of any hernia repair device and claimed in some of the cases that injuries stemmed from doctors’ errors, Conlin said.
The tentative settlement comes after a federal judge overseeing the MDL refused in February to grant Bard a chance at a new trial following a jury’s August decision to award $1.5 million to a couple in the second of four bellwether trials.
U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi ruled that the jury’s verdict in favor of Christopher and Laure Thorpe was fair considering the evidence and testimony given at trial.
The Thorpes initially filed suit in November 2008, claiming Christopher Thorpe developed an abscess and fistula as a result of a defective memory ring after the patch was used to repair his ventral hernia.
One of Bard’s main arguments had been that there was no peer-reviewed literature to support the link between the faulty hernia patch and Christopher Thorpe’s injuries, but the judge ruled that science supported the plaintiffs’ allegations, according to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Donald Migliori of Motley Rice LLC.
The verdict in the Thorpes’ case came about four months after a jury found for the defendants in the first bellwether case in the MDL. In that suit, the jury decided Bard’s patches were neither defectively designed nor inadequately labeled.
The plaintiffs are represented by Donald Migliori of Motley Rice LLC, Ernest Cory and Jon Conlin of Cory Watson Crowder & DeGaris PC, and Edward Wallace of Wexler Wallace LLP, among others.
Bard is represented by John Hooper and Michael Brown of Reed Smith LLP and Mark Nugent and Thomas Robinson of Morrison Mahoney LLP.
The MDL is In re: Kugel Mesh Hernia Patch Products Liability Litigation, case number 07-md-01842, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.