On Tuesday, March 12, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Johnson & Johnson's request to remove a Philadelphia judge from a pelvic mesh trial, but the company still has a request to boot the same judge from pelvic mesh mass tort trials entirely.
The high court denied a motion filed by J&J's subsidiary Ethicon, which sought to have the justices use their King's Bench jurisdiction to exclude Judge Kenneth Powell from hearing the case involving claims filed by Susan McFarland. Ethicon filed a motion last week arguing that Powell's mother has sued another J&J subsidiary over blood thinner Xarelto's side-effects. According to the company, Powell did not disclose his mother's lawsuit until he presided over one trial and was assigned another one. Speaking on behalf of Ethicon, Alicia Hickok, told, "because this court is responsible for judicial assignments in the mass tort program, and because Judge Powell has repeatedly denied the defendants' motions to recuse himself from presiding over trials within this mass tort in which he has given the appearance of or exercised bias, defendants respectfully request that this court reassign Judge Powell from McFarland and not assign Judge Powell to these cases in the future."
Ethicon had earlier filed motions before two other judges in Philadelphia County to consider removal of Judge Powell from overlooking the mesh litigation. In the first motion which was denied on Tuesday, the company asserted that a separate judge should hold an in camera evidentiary hearing regarding Judge Powell's recusal. The second motion, in which the company asked Judge Arnold New to bar Judge Powell from McFarland and any future pelvic mesh trials, remains pending.