Johnson & Johnson has withdrawn its discovery motion to pursue its allegations that the plaintiffs’ attorneys in transvaginal mesh multidistrict litigation had engaged in illegal plaintiff solicitation and filed lawsuits without legitimate claims.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin on Feb. 11 granted J&J’s motion to withdraw its discovery motion related to its claims of plaintiff solicitation, though it did not disclose its reasons for the move. An attorney for J&J could not immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said Tuesday that an independent sampling review did not unearth any fraudulent suits in the MDL over vaginal mesh devices manufactured by J&J unit Ethicon Inc.
“The plaintiffs’ leadership is pleased that Ethicon has decided to withdraw its motion,” Bryan Aylstock of Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC said in a statement Tuesday. “Moreover, the plaintiffs’ leadership has always stood ready to work with Ethicon to investigate and put an end to any wrongful conduct, and the parties have pledged to work together to investigate and attempt to put an end to any wrongful solicitation of clients.”
J&J filed a motion in January pushing plaintiffs in the litigation to offer sooner proof of their injuries, while the plaintiffs argued that J&J had not shown even one fraudulent complaint among the nearly 24,000 cases in MDL, according to court documents.
J&J and Ethicon claimed in their motion that certain “unscrupulous” call centers have somehow obtained the private medical information of certain women and repeatedly harass them to join the litigation for $30,000 to $40,000 settlements, even if they had never had the surgery.
In one such alleged call with a woman who had never had surgery with the mesh — though she’d had an unrelated surgery — a caller suggested that she lie to qualify for the money even after she told them she’d never had mesh implanted, saying, “That’s OK, wouldn’t you like $30,000?”
But the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that J&J had not shown a link between such call centers and plaintiffs’ attorneys, and that the device maker was leveling the claims against them as a stalling tactic, according to court filings.
Ethicon and J&J are represented by David B. Thomas of Thomas Combs & Spann PLLC and Christy D. Jones of Butler Snow PLLC.
Plaintiffs are represented by The Potts Law Firm, Blasingame Burch Garrard Ashley PC, Motley Rice LLC, Beasley Allen Crow Methvin Portis & Miles PC and Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC, among others.
The MDL is In re: Ethicon Inc. Pelvic Repair Systems Product Liability Litigation, case number 2:12-md-02327, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.