C.R. Bard ($BCR) is gearing up for yet another lawsuit from a patient alleging injury from an unsafe vaginal mesh implant, but speculation remains that the company and at least some of its rivals will reach a massive, collective settlement in the coming weeks.
The next trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 3 in U.S. District Court in West Virgina (Jones v. C.R. Bard). So far, the track record in cases involving Bard's Avaulta Plus vaginal mesh implants have been pretty mixed. In August, for example, a West Virgina jury awarded a woman $2 million in compensation and damages in a trial where she alleged the device left her with bladder spasms, bleeding, pelvic and rectal pain. And a West Virginia U.S. district court judge later upheld that verdict in October. Bard has lost at least one other case.
Here's the thing: thousands of lawsuits are pending against Bard and its rivals alleging that their vaginal mesh implants caused injury. But Bard, plus rivals Boston Scientific ($BSX), Endo Health Solutions ($ENDP), Coloplast and Cook Medical are rumored to be negotiating to resolve the remaining cases.
There are whispers that such a deal may be close, perhaps involving a combination of at least some of the companies. Legal-Bay, a firm that bills itself as a "lawsuit settlement funding company," noted in a release that Bard, Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems and Coloplast are still rumored to be negotiating on a "global settlement" involving up to 50,000 cases, a deal that could be resolved in early 2014. (No word on whether Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) or Gynecare are involved yet, Legal-Bay noted.)
Legal-Bay certainly has a stake in the matter, and the outfit is urging potential plaintiffs to file their lawsuits soon "because the time to file a lawsuit claim is limited."
But the settlement rumors remain. Considering that Johnson & Johnson just agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement involving lawsuits over faulty metal hip implants, the company's decision to resolve the issue might very well inspire other device companies to do the same.
- here's the Legal-Bay statement