CHICAGO — The case of an Illinois woman injured during a 2013 surgery that included a pelvic mesh is on its way back to Cook County after a federal judge brushed aside a defendant's contentions the case should not be tried in Illinois.

U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly said in his decision that defendant company Ethicon's argument that the case's medical defendants are not necessary or indispensable parties in the allegations against Ethicon "is likely true" under federal court rules. However, that does not require the case be severed into two—one between the plaintiffs and Ethicon and the other between the plaintiffs and all the other medical defendants, Kennelly said in his decision.

"And because there are Illinois citizens on both sides of the case and no fraudulent joinder or misjoinder of the medical defendants, there is no basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction," Kennelly said in his decision. "Removal was therefore inappropriate."

Kennelly remanded the case to Cook Count Circuit Court.

Ann M. and Ronald Hullett filed the original suit May 5 in the Cook County Circuit Court, alleging that Ann Hullett was injured during a reconstructive surgery in May 2013 that included an implantation of a Gynecare mesh. The two claim that insufficient measures and negligence contributed to Ann Hullet's injuries.

The Hullet's original suit sought a judgment of more than $50,000.

The medical defendants named in the original lawsuit included Sandra Culbertson, the physician who performed the surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center and Palos Community Hospital. The Hulletts later amended their complaint to add Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson, which designed and manufactured the mesh, as additional defendants in the case. In Kennelly's decision, Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson are referred to collectively as "Ethicon."

The Hulletts and the medical defendants are Illinois citizens. The Ethicon collective alleged that they were improperly added as defendants in the case and later filed a motion to sever the allegations it faced from allegations against the medical defendants, according to Kennelly's decision.

The medical defendants and the Hulletts all objected to Ethicon's motion and asked to have the case sent back to Cook County.

The Hulletts are represented in the case by the firm of Power, Rogers & Smith, of Chicago.

Ethicon is represented by the firm of Tucker Ellis LLP, of Chicago. 

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Cook County Circuit Court U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois




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