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Jury selected for second mesh implant lawsuit litigation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Jurors were selected Monday in a second attempt to hear the first of thousands of cases against manufacturers of mesh pelvic repair products.

The first trial, Donna Cisson vs. C.R. Bard, ended in a mistrial after two days of testimony earlier this month. The first four "bellwether" trials are scheduled to be heard back-to-back in United States District Court by Judge Joseph Goodwin.

Goodwin is overseeing the consolidation of nearly 26,000 similar cases of complaints of injuries involving the plastic mesh devices that were widely used by physicians to treat bladder and other organ weakness in women. 

In Cisson's case, a witness for the defense commented that the devices are often removed because of complications and are not implanted anymore. That information was considered by the judge to be prejudicial.

Goodwin declared a mistrial on July 10, saying that the statement by Dr. Lennox Hoyte of Florida was like "a bell that cannot be unrung."

Cisson had a transvaginal mesh device implanted to help with some of her pelvic problems, including incontinence. But her physician partially removed it after she began experiencing other difficulties and pain.

Jurors in the first trial heard hours of graphic descriptions of Cisson's medical ailments. At times, she and her husband dabbed tears as they listened, too.

But a defense attorney for the device manufacturer, Lori Cohen, told that jury that Cisson's health problems dated back to the 1980s and that she had actually seen improvement.

Cohen said the success rate with transvaginal mesh was 97 percent, and the plastic in the product was a common component of many medical devices.

A new jury was seated for a new trial Monday, and attorneys presented their opening statements. Witnesses are expected to take the stand today.

Goodwin will make decisions after the verdicts in Cisson's trial -- and three more that will follow -- that will affect how the rest of the mesh cases against six manufacturers will be handled.

The pelvic repair device cases are not a class action lawsuit but have been combined under what is termed multi-district litigation in an effort to streamline them. All have been assigned by a panel to Goodwin.

In the past, the same judge has presided over multi-district litigation involving the drugs Digitek and Serzone.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.

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