Becton Dickinson ordered to pay $255k in hernia mesh trial

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  • Plaintiff alleged infection, abscess caused by defective mesh implant
  • Company still faces more than 26,000 hernia mesh claims in federal and state court

April 15 - A jury on Friday ordered Becton, Dickinson and Co to pay $255,000 to a man who sued the company, alleging he had been injured by its hernia repair surgical mesh, according to a court filing.

The verdict in Columbus, Ohio federal court comes in the second bellwether trial in a multidistrict litigation over the company's hernia mesh products, which were sold by C.R. Bard Inc before its 2017 acquisition by Becton Dickinson. The first bellwether trial last year ended with a verdict in favor of the company.

More than 16,000 cases have been consolidated before Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus in Columbus, in the third-largest pending MDL nationwide. Plaintiffs claim that the mesh products caused infections, pain, inflammation and other problems.

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A hernia is a protrusion of an organ through a weak spot in a muscle or connective tissue wall. Becton Dickinson maintains that its hernia repair mesh is safe.

Friday's verdict came in a case brought by Antonio Milanesi, who had Bard's Ventralex mesh implanted during a hernia repair in 2007, and his wife, Alicia Morz De Milanesi. They claimed that Milanesi developed an infection and bowel abscess because of the mesh, requiring a second surgery in 2017.

Like other plaintiffs in the MDL, the Milanesis say the mesh products are defectively designed because their polypropylene material degrades when in implanted in human tissue.

Timothy O'Brien of Levin Papantonio Rafferty, who represents Milanesi, said in an email the verdict sends a message that Ventralex is defectively designed and dangerous.

Becton Dickinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Becton Dickinson is also facing state court lawsuits over its hernia mesh. The company said in its most recent quarterly report that it faced more than 26,000 pending hernia mesh lawsuits, most in the Ohio MDL or in a coordinated litigation in Rhode Island state court.

Surgical mesh has been the subject of frequent litigation, with MDLs consolidated for similar claims over mesh products sold by Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon unit and Getinge's Atrium Medical Corp, which last December said it had agreed to settle all claims for $66 million. The MDL against Ethicon remains pending, and no trials have yet taken place.

The bellwether case is Milanesi et al v. C.R. Bard Inc et al, No. 2:18-cv-01320, and the MDL is In re: Davol Inc/C.R. Bard Inc Polypropylene Hernia Mesh Products Liability Litigation, No. 2:18-md-02846, both in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio.

For plaintiffs: Timothy O'Brien of Levin Papantonio Rafferty and Kelsey Stokes of Fleming Nolen & Jez

For Bard: Michael Brown of Reed Smith and others

(NOTE: This article has been updated to include a statement from Timothy O'Brien.)

Read more:

Becton Dickinson faces first bellwether trial over hernia mesh

Getinge's Atrium Medical loses bid to dismiss bellwether mesh cases

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Brendan Pierson reports on product liability litigation and on all areas of health care law. He can be reached at brendan.pierson@thomsonreuters.com.

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.