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Bard Settles Vaginal-Mesh Case After $2 Million Verdict

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Aug. 21 (Bloomberg) -- C.R. Bard Inc. agreed to settle a woman’s claims that its vaginal-mesh implants caused her injuries as the second federal trial of lawsuits over the devices was about to begin in West Virginia.

Attorneys for Wanda Queen of North Carolina notified a judge in Charleston, West Virginia, today that they had settled the case. She said Bard’s Avaulta insert caused pain and forced her to have six surgeries. The accord came a week after a jury ordered Bard to pay $2 million in damages in another West Virginia suit involving the product.

Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed. Scott Lowry, a Bard spokesman, said today’s settlement covered only Queen’s claims and wasn’t part of a larger resolution of thousands of others that are pending.

“This is a large, complex litigation and Bard will consider each case based on the facts and merits,” Lowry said in an e-mailed statement. “We will continue to vigorously defend against all other lawsuits involving Avaulta.”

Bard, based in Murray Hill, New Jersey, faces more than 8,000 claims over Avaulta, which women allege can cause organ damage and make sexual intercourse painful when the devices erode. Johnson & Johnson, Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Boston Scientific Corp. face similar claims that their implants, threaded in place through vaginal incisions, shrink over time.

Bard rose about 1.3 percent to $114.44 after the settlement was announced. The company’s shares have risen about 17 percent this year.

The implant cases against Bard and other manufacturers have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston for pretrial information exchanges.

FDA Order

Bard officials pulled the Avaulta implants off the market last year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered all makers of the devices to study rates of organ damage, infection and pain during sex linked to their products.

A California state court jury last year found Bard liable for a woman’s injuries tied to an Avaulta implant in the first case to go trial in any U.S. court. Jurors said the company should pay $5.5 million in damages. Bard is liable for only $3.6 million under state law.

A West Virginia jury concluded Aug. 15 that Bard should pay $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages to Donna Cisson, a nurse from Georgia who had an Avaulta Plus device implanted. Cisson said the mesh damaged her organs and caused other ailments, in the first case to be tried in a U.S. federal court.

Bank Executive

Queen, a bank executive from Raleigh, North Carolina, alleged that her Avaulta Solo device, implanted to reinforce falling pelvic organs, left her in severe pain and unable to comfortably have sex, according to court filings.

She was forced to switch to a less-demanding executive post at Vantage South Bank in Raleigh, according to the filings.

Goodwin has set two other Bard mesh cases for trial starting in October, according to court dockets. The bellwether cases are designed to allow both sides to see how juries evaluate different claims.

“We’re pleased to have resolved the case, and we’re preparing to try the next set of claims starting in October,” Don Migliori, one of Queen’s lawyers, said in an e-mailed statement.

In the cases, Bard is facing allegations that executives knew the company was making the implants out of plastic which carried a warning that it shouldn’t be permanently implanted in humans and pushed ahead with production to bolster profits.

The Bard consolidated cases are In re C.R. Bard Inc. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, 10-md-02187. Queen’s case is Queen v. C.R. Bard Inc., 11-cv-00012, U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston).

To contact the reporter on this story: Jef Feeley in Wilmington, Delaware, at jfeeley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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