With over 18,000 transvaginal mesh cases currently pending, women who have suffered harm from a mesh implant used in stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse surgery may be wondering whether they should file a suit against the manufacturer of their own mesh implant. Over 12,000 of those have been combined into an MDL before Judge Goodwin in West Virgina while others are state-filed cases. The manufacturers involved in the MDLs are C.R. Bard, Coloplast Corporation, Ethicon (a division of Johnson & Johnson) Mentor Corporation, Boston Scientific and American Medical Systems. The federal MDLs allow patients to come together for the purpose of discovery and pretrial proceedings.
These actions save both money and time however each case is heard individually which allows financial settlements to be based on the specific circumstances of each case. One case against the manufacturer C.R. Bard resulted in the plaintiff receiving an award of $5.5 million dollars. Another plaintiff received $11.11 million dollars after undergoing 18 surgical procedures to remove the mesh which had caused her so many medical issues. While participating in a class-action lawsuit could be an option for women injured by transvaginal mesh, once claimants agree to participate they waive their right to a separate lawsuit. This means that each member of the class action suit receives the same settlement amount regardless of the amount of harm suffered.
Of course the degree of harm suffered has some bearing on whether a woman should consider filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of her mesh implant. Many women have suffered irreparable harm including mesh erosion into the vaginal walls or surrounding organs, infection, dyspareunia and chronic, extreme pain. Day-to-day activities such as sitting, walking and sexual intercourse can be altered forever while the physical and emotional harm can affect work and relationships. Many women who need to have revision surgery to remove the mesh may be uninsured—or under-insured—meaning they have no option other than leaving the defective mesh product in their bodies and suffering the ongoing consequences. Women who do undergo surgery to remove the mesh may require a number of corrective surgeries and even so the complications may continue.
It is important for women who have suffered harm from transvaginal mesh to discuss their individual circumstances with an experienced attorney who can clearly lay out their options. Even those women who have not necessarily experienced some of the more severe consequences of transvaginal mesh but suffer chronic pain should discuss this with an attorney. While the mesh may be fine up to this point, there is a very real chance it could fail in the future. What many patients are unaware of is that much of the mesh currently on the market is made from the same synthetic polymer that is also used in commercial grade fishing line. The manufacturers of the polymer specifically stated it was not to be implanted in the human body, yet mesh manufacturers found ways around this by offering the companies indemnity in return for the ability to use the resin in any application they chose.
So this material has been used over and over in an application it was not meant to be used for, and, in some cases by surgeons who simply were not trained in the necessary skills for mesh implantation. Because the mesh was—at least on the surface—relatively easy to implant, it is believed by many that it was significantly over-prescribed, used in patients who were not good candidates and by surgeons who had little experience in the necessary techniques. The mesh was FDA approved through a highly controversial process known as the 510(k) process which allowed mesh manufacturers to skip many safety procedures prior to bringing their implant to market. If you feel you have suffered harm from a transvaginal mesh implant, seek legal advice immediately in order to ensure your case—if you have one—can be filed in a timely manner.