Pelvic Mesh Litigation

by Steve Fields on August 19th, 2012

Unsurprisingly, the number of pelvic mesh litigation claims filed by women who have suffered serious complications after receiving mesh implants continues to climb. There are (at the time of writing) nearly 800 cases pending in federal court against several mesh manufacturers. Many more are sure to follow as more women experience severe problems with their devices.

Surgical mesh, sometimes called a bladder sling, is installed to repair pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The former condition occurs when the bladder, rectum, or other pelvic organs drop from their places. They bulge into the vaginal wall, or fall into the vaginal canal. Stress urinary incontinence occurs when the muscles controlling the passage of urine from the bladder weaken, allowing leaks. Surgical mesh can be installed through the wall of the vagina to provide support. However, thousands of women have reported a range of transvaginal mesh bladder sling complications following the procedure.

Below, we’ll provide a summary of the latest bladder sling lawsuit news. Recent decisions by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) have resulted in the consolidation of hundreds of cases.

Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Have Been Consolidated In MDLs

Victims of defective medical devices often believe the best approach to seeking compensation is through a class action lawsuit. In reality, the amount of compensation obtained through such an approach is usually much less than expected. Class actions are based on a commonality among the victims with regard to their injuries or grievances. An example would be a large number of people who were charged unwarranted fees by their bank.

With defective mesh implants, the severity of the injuries suffered by recipients varies even though the basic complications are similar. One victim may experience minor vaginal bleeding and discharge while another might develop side effects so severe she is unable to work. For this reason, a class action mesh lawsuit is unlikely to result in fair compensation for all of the individuals represented by the case.

We mentioned earlier that hundreds of pelvic mesh lawsuits have been consolidated by the JPML. This consolidation is by way of multidistrict litigation (MDL). This is a judicial mechanism that brings together a large number of cases, but allows each case to retain its individuality. This is critical to each victim obtaining compensation that justly reflects her injuries and consequent suffering.

To date, nearly 800 vaginal mesh lawsuit claims have been consolidated into 4 MDLs. All four will be presented before a federal judge (Judge Joseph Goodwin) in U.S. District Court in West Virginia. Each of the 4 MDLs focus on a different company: C.R. Bard, Ethicon, Boston Scientific, and American Medical Systems (AMS). Additional cases filed against these companies may be added to the existing MDLs.

It’s important to note that there are several mesh manufacturers, each with its own brand of implant. All may be susceptible to failure. To that end, the FDA issued a public health notification in 2008 after receiving reports of serious mesh complications from nine companies. It is still unclear whether lawsuits filed against these other manufacturers will also be consolidated into multidistrict litigation.

What Factors Prompted The Pelvic Mesh Litigation Claims?

With the number of lawsuits increasing so rapidly, it is worth revisiting the types of injuries suffered by women who have undergone vaginal mesh surgery. In 2011, the FDA provided a representative list. The list was based on adverse event reports filed by recipients as well as a review of scientific literature. The agency noted that the most commonly reported complication was erosion of the device through the wall of the vagina. In some cases, the implant eroded far enough that it could be seen with the unaided eye in the vaginal canal.

Many women have also reported vaginal bleeding, infections, and pain during sex. Some have experienced urinary problems while others have developed vaginal scarring. Some have experienced neuromuscular disorders while in others, the mesh implant has contracted, causing debilitating pain. Several women have even reported recurring prolapse; the organs the mesh device was designed to support once again bulge against the wall of the vagina.

You expected your mesh implant to relieve the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence. Instead, it might have caused pain, infection, and other serious complications. If this has happened to you, you may be due compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and lost wages. Contact us to discuss pursuing a vaginal mesh lawsuit settlement. Currently there has been one large vaginal mesh recall by Johnson & Johnson, however a number of other manufacturers are facing increasing pressure to withdraw their products from the marketplace.

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