"Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Posts Tagged ‘transvaginal mesh’

The past year was eventful for RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC. Some of the cases we’ve been working on for several years have come to a close or are near-closing. In 2014, the firm’s main operations shifted from Europe to the USA to be able to work on some of the firm’s cases that were heading towards trial more intensively. The firm still maintains its main office in Seattle with a branch in The Hague and Of Counsel and consultants located in various states and countries.

The first case worth mentioning in this overview is a case [case No. 12-cv-01496] against several defendants* regarding civil RICO, unfair competition law, breach of contract, and other claims, which was filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs do business in equestrian fashion, selling horse supplies and accessories as well as horse riding apparel. They extended their market to North America, but their business agents and competitors ruined this plan by stealing, committing fraud, and misleading the plaintiffs. In mid-2014, most of the defendants opted for a settlement. In late 2014, two defendants agreed to a stipulated judgment of $150,000, which will be enforceable in case these two defendants do not pay the scheduled installment payments.

CA court

Robert Gaudet at the District Court for the Central District of California, located in Santa Ana, Orange County.

A second case we worked on extensively during the past year was an employment discrimination case against Port of Seattle, which was filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington [case No. 2:13-cv-00545]. Mr. Gaudet was in Seattle to take and defend depositions, prepare for trial, and attend trial. The firm was successful in defending many of the claims against the Port of Seattle’s motion for summary judgment. Only less than 2% of civil law cases in federal courts go to trial, which means most cases do not get past the motions to dismiss or for summary judgment or are settled. Defense counsel noted in a brief that Mr. Gaudet litigated like a big law firm. Mr. Federici assisted with the proceedings before trial while other co-counsel assisted with the trial in federal court in Seattle. The trial started in the beginning of September and lasted for about two weeks. Many witnesses were served with subpoenas to deliver testimony. Unfortunately, the jury did not decide in our client’s favor.

Court in Seattle

Robert Gaudet at the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, located in Seattle.

A third case that we spent time working on in the past year was a case against American Medical Systems (AMS) [case No. 2:13-cv-23053] regarding a defective transvaginal mesh product or, more specifically, the Monarc Hammock which eroded inside our client and required multiple surgeries to remove. The case is being handled by the US District Court of the Southern District of West Virgina, in history’s largest MDL (multi-district litigation). With the assistance of co-counsel, we settled this case. A motion to dismiss will soon be filed. Women with similar problems should contact our firm through the contact form on this website.

Trial Team

Robert Gaudet & Karin Gaudet-Asmus together with trial counsel in the federal court room in Seattle, WA.

Finally, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided in April 2014 on a case the firm had worked on. Mr. Gaudet objected to a class settlement that class counsel had agreed on with Apple, Inc. for their defective powercord adapters. The District Court approved the settlement, and requested objectors to post a bond. Mr. Gaudet appealed the decision of the District Court and pointed out in briefing – among other things – that the class counsel (the lawyers representing the class) were paid too much in attorney’s fees while the compensation for the class members themselves (the people who had bought defective powercords) was insufficient. The Court of Appeals vacated the settlement and sent the case back to the District Court to reassess the settlement.

Rob at 9th Circuit

Robert Gaudet in front of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, located in San Francisco, CA.

Some personal highlights of the past year are the following:

o Ms. Tatjana Ribic, Legal Consultant, is working as a member of the Serbian Republic Commission for the Protection of Rights in Public Procurement Procedures. In the fall of 2014, she attended a 10-day training session in The Hague on public procurement issues, especially in connection with the rule of law. The training was one of MATRA’s Pre-Accession Training Programs, funded by the Dutch government and provided by T.M.C. Asser Institute, to help accession states, such as Serbia, with the implementation of the EU Acquis. Ms. Ribic kept up-to-date with European public procurement developments and also gave training on public procurement issues through Paragraph, a private Serbian company.

o Mr. Joe Federici, Of Counsel, left his position as counsel for the American University of Afghanistan and enrolled in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He started an internship at the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and still serves as the co-chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Section of International Law of the ABA. Mr. Federici worked intensively on a couple of the firm’s cases, including the Anitei v. Port of Seattle for which he drafted a motion to compel that was granted in part. He also worked on discovery matters for the Equine Industry et al v. Juan Ayora et al case and successfully responded to motions to dismiss.

o Prof. Ingrid Detter de Frankopan, Of Counsel, published a new copy of her book, The Law of War. She will open up her French estate for an Academy of War Studies (AWS), which will be incorporated as a charity in England. The point of AWS is to have high level discussions and seminars to reduce the chance of armed conflict. We will keep you posted on any news regarding AWS. Prof. Ingrid Detter de Frankopan will continue to practice law in various jurisdictions. As a licensed lawyer in the UK and Sweden, she also assists the firm with Barboni v. Argentina on behalf of bondholders whose May 2004 Euro Medium Term Note program bonds are governed by English law. Prof. Detter de Frankopan was present at the inauguration of the new President of Croatia, Ms. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, in February 2015. Ms. Grabar-Kitarović is the first female head-of-state of Croatia since it entered a non-communist era in 1990.

Detter de Frankopan with guard

Prof. Detter de Frankopan posing next to the guards on the day of the inauguration of the Croatian President.

o Ms. Gaudet-Asmus, legal consultant, is applying for LL.M. programs because an American LL.M. degree will make her eligible to become a licensed lawyer in the US. In the meantime, Karin will keep working for the firm. Moreover, she will teach Dutch language and culture courses at the University of Texas, El Paso this upcoming summer. She is also volunteering part-time for Las Americas, a local advocacy center which assists asylum seekers, victims of crime, and other immigrants with legal immigration matters.

o Mr. Gaudet, a lawyer who is licensed in Washington state, is seeking admission to the Texas bar. He is currently working on federal cases, including Barboni v. Argentina regarding Argentina’s default on its bonds. Mr. Gaudet also worked with a Texas law firm to revise the job description of the Dallas County Court Reporters Association in conformity with the Fair Labor Standards Act. Moreover, Mr. Gaudet recently started to assist with prosecution of a class action in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., Almanza v. United States. It is a Fair Labor Standards Act and Customs Officer Pay Reform Act opt-in class action against the US Government on behalf of Customs and Border Patrol Agents. Even though the firm’s main activity moved to the US, Mr. Gaudet wants to keep the strong ties the firm has with Europe and is interested in assisting lawyers in Europe to increase access to justice for plaintiffs in Europe. For instance, he is now cooperating with a firm in Europe to obtain information that may be useful to prosecute transvaginal mesh cases in European national courts.

The firm continues to seek justice on behalf of people who have been injured and to contribute to broader global issues of human rights, peace, and advocacy. The firm and its colleagues have dedicated a large portion of their time in the past year to public service and pro bono matters.


[* defendants to the lawsuit were: Juan Ayora, Ernest Nick Collins, Kathleen Collins, D5 Global Inc, Does, Christa L Endicott, Michael Endicott, Tal Goldstein, Jill Humphrey, Megan Hunt, Martina Lazorova, Rudy Leone, Leone Equestrians Inc, Ocean Point Equestrian, Pegasus Show Stables Inc, Rolling Meadows Inc, Deirdre Seeds, Erin Seeds, Lisa Sweet, Monica Ward-Hiett, Allon Equestrian LLC, Juan Ayora and Ayora LLC]

By Karin Gaudet-Asmus – February 4, 2015

Recently, a Dutch TV show for consumers, Radar, featured a report on how easy it is for manufacturers of medical devices, such as transvaginal mesh products, to have their product approved for the European market. Back in 2012 this TV program broadcasted a show informing Dutch consumers about faulty transvaginal surgical mesh slings that were used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress and urinary incontinence.

In the United States, more than 40,000 patients individually brought cases against the manufacturers of these same defective medical devices. These cases from all over the US were assigned to one court, the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. By aggregating the cases through a special federal legal procedure called Multidistrict Litigation (MDL), the process of handling these complex cases has been speeded up.

Mesh Of all these cases, at least twenty were filed by injured individuals from New Zealand. The defendants, manufacturers Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Inc., moved to dismiss their claims based on the forum non conveniens doctrine. Forum non conveniens is a doctrine that permits a district court to dismiss (or transfer) a case if the current forum, the US, is inconvenient. Defendants have to show that there is an adequate alternative forum, meaning that forum (here: New Zealand), is (1) available, (2) adequate, and (3) more convenient in light of the public and private interests involved. [1]

In the case of the New Zealanders, Judge Goodwin decided the motion to dismiss on February 18, 2014 (Solvander v. American Medical Systems, Inc., 2:13-cv-19418, MDL No. 2325, Doc. 13). The court granted the motion to dismiss, after deciding New Zealand fulfills all the requirements of an adequate alternative forum. Technically, the motion to dismiss was filed only by defendants Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, Inc. American Medical Systems (AMS) did not file a similar motion. However, most likely, the same holding would apply to the claims against AMS because the court’s February 18 decision was filed on the AMS docket and the same reasoning would apply.

After analyzing Judge Goodwin’s decision to dismiss the cases of the New Zealanders, RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC believes the court would similarly dismiss cases brought by injured Dutch victims against manufacturers of faulty medical devices in the US, at least as long as their circumstances are similar to the circumstances of those of the New Zealanders, e.g. they were treated outside the US.

As a summary, the US legal system most likely does not allow Dutch victims of faulty vaginal mesh products to claim damages in the US, as any case that would be filed in the US could be dismissed on request of defendants by the judge on the grounds of forum non conveniens. Dutch victims will have to pursue access to justice in the Netherlands, instead.

Transvaginal Mesh As for the thousands of existing claims, on February 5, 2015, the court in West Virginia will hold a status conference. The court has required defendant client representatives “with full authority to make all decisions related to MDL 2325” against AMS to attend. In the US, RJ Gaudet & Associates LLC represents clients against AMS over defective transvaginal mesh products, e.g. the Monarc Hammock.

[1] In 2012, we wrote about the topic of forum non conveniens in the US for a Dutch audience in cooperation with Ms. Antoinette F. Collignon-Smit Sibinga from Legaltree Collignon who posted the piece on her blog.