C.R. Bard forks over $3.6M in first case to go to trial over vaginal mesh implant

C.R. Bard ($BCR) is shelling out $3.6 million in damages in the first case that went to trial over one of its transvaginal mesh implants, a few months after the company agreed to settle thousands of suits from women who claimed injury from related products.

A jury originally ordered Bard to pay $5.5 million to the plaintiff, but the court reduced that amount to $3.6 million after finding that the doctor who implanted the company's Avaulta mesh device was at fault. Bard appealed that decision but lost its appeal earlier this year, according to Lawsuit Settlement News, prompting it to pay the damages.

The news comes a few months after Bard said it would fork over more than $200 million to settle 3,000 cases by women who were injured from its vaginal mesh products. The settlement takes care of about one-fifth of outstanding lawsuits over the devices. But Bard still faces more than 21,000 product liability suits for the devices, including more than 12,000 cases consolidated before a judge in a Charleston, WV, federal court.

Meanwhile, Judge Joseph Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia is urging the Murray Hill, NJ-based company to settle cases rather than battle it out with plaintiffs. Last year, the judge said that he could not "imagine a corporation facing potentially billions of dollars in verdicts wouldn't find it advisable to try to achieve a settlement for a much lesser sum," Goodwin said at the time. In October 2014, Bard agreed to pay $21 million to settle 500 suits over related products.

But the company has also tried to escape legal fallout, albeit to little success. In December, the company attempted to resist a bid from plaintiffs to consolidate 185 suits related to pelvic mesh implants. In January 2015, the company lost a bid to push back a product liability trial over its device after Goodwin rejected Bard's accusation that the judge's earlier comments regarding a potential settlement may have prejudiced the jury.

Bard is far from the only devicemaker facing legal pushback over vaginal mesh products. Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Boston Scientific ($BSX) are wading through their own mesh-related claims, settling suits or paying out damages to plaintiffs.

Other companies are taking a different route and opting for global settlements. In March 2014, Danish devicemaker Coloplast shelled out $16 million to resolve lawsuits claiming that its faulty vaginal-mesh implants injured women. In October 2014, Endo added $400 million to its $1.2 billion liability reserve to resolve "substantially all" suits related to vaginal mesh implants sold by its American Medical Systems (AMS) business. The company will fund payments through 2017, settling more than 10,000 suits for an average of $48,000 apiece.

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