A recent report from the federal judicial system has revealed that the number of lawsuits related to three of the major brands of hernia mesh is on the rise. Each of these multidistrict litigations has grown substantially bigger with more lawsuits expected to be filed in the coming months. The complications associated with this medical device has caused patients to need follow-up surgeries, often resulting in long-term health effects. Anyone who has had one of these meshes implanted as part of their hernia surgery and has experienced any complications should speak with a hernia mesh lawsuit attorney to learn of their legal rights.
Multidistrict Hernia Mesh Litigation
There are currently three major multidistrict litigations ongoing that are related to hernia surgeries. They are:
- Bard Hernia mesh lawsuits in the Southern District of Ohio (2,478 total cases as of July 2019)
- Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits in the District Court for the Northern District of Georgia (2,167 total cases)
- Atrium C-Qur in federal court in New Hampshire (1,403 total cases)
- There is also a consolidated State Court lawsuit against Bard Davol pending in Rhode Island, Providence Superior Court. (over 1000 lawsuits)
Multidistrict litigation is a series of related cases that do not meet the requirements of a class action action. However, there are still some efficiencies for the courts and for the parties to the lawsuits if there are some common elements of the case in the judicial system. In an MDL each victim has their own hernia mesh lawyer and is not required to accept any proposed settlement. The victim can reject a mesh settlement and pursue their own individual trial. In an MDL, the cases are typically consolidated for discovery, settlement and pretrial motions.For example, the cost to have separate discovery for each of these cases is prohibitive so there is a common process.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation periodically releases statistics on the number of cases that are pending in court. The most recent report was issued in July 2019. The number of cases on the docket for each of these three types of litigation continues to remain steady. Even though Ethicon was pulled from the market years ago, the litigation surrounding the product is still in full swing. In addition to the multidistrict litigation, there are also numerous individual hernia mesh cases pending in state courts.
Complications from Hernia Mesh
Hernia meshes have caused a variety of complications in those patients who have received them. These implants are intended to stabilize the surrounding area and allow healthy tissue to grow around it. In many cases, the hernia repair using mesh is successful, and the process does offer some advantages to traditional open incision hernia surgery. Namely, the recovery time from the surgery is shorter and the risk of recurrence is lower.
However, some of these benefits are negated by the dangers of hernia mesh. When the device fails, it can have serious short and long-term effects for the patients. These side effects include infection, bowel perforation, sepsis, hernia recurrence, adhesion to organs and the possibility that the device may fail. Further, the hernia mesh may migrate, and when it does, it may cause harm to the surrounding area in the body.
Ethicon Physiomesh Lawsuits
Each of these hernia meshes that are the subject of the multidistrict litigations has had issues that have either led to recalls or have drawn regulatory scrutiny. Ethicon’s physiomesh was removed from the market in 2016 due to a higher incidence of the need for recurrent surgeries. Physiomesh was rushed to the market under a streamlined FDA approval process that did not require as much research before the product could be used in surgeries. After years of use, there were a pair of studies that showed that the product’s effectiveness rate was markedly lower than that of its competitors. As a result, Ethicon took the product out of circulation, permanently. This mesh removal was not a hernia mesh recall but had all the hallmarks of a recall.
Atrium C-Qur Lawsuit
Atrium’s C-Qur hernia mesh was the subject of a partial FDA recall in 2013 because patients were experiencing a higher rate of infection with this product than other meshes. There were other complications such as bowel obstructions. Patients who required surgery to remove the mesh encountered complications because of how bound up the mesh was with internal organs. The company has already set aside $200 million to cover the costs of litigation with the initial trials starting in late 2019.
C.R. Bard has already settled one MDL hernia mesh litigation (The Kugel MDL) resulting from a prior iteration of hernia mesh. This particular type of hernia mesh has experienced much of the same side effects as Physiomesh and C-Qur. C.R. Bard is perhaps the dominant company in the market for all types of surgical meshes and it is no stranger to litigation. The company was also a large producer of pelvic mesh, and was one of the last companies producing that mesh before the FDA ordered pelvic mesh off of the market.
Why Hernia Mesh Suits Are Increasing
Part of the reason why the number of these lawsuits has been increasing is because hernia mesh is equivalent to a ticking time bomb in the patient’s body. Complications can arise even many years after the mesh has been implanted. Hernia meshes can fail years after the surgery. Most types of hernia mesh are made of a type of plastic, and they are not degradable. In other words, they will always be a part of the body. There have been many reports of infections occurring even years after the hernia surgery. Further, the device can fail after working for many years, necessitating a follow-up surgery.
Given the number of patients that have had surgery using hernia mesh, there is still room for the number of lawsuits to grow even further. According to the FDA, there are approximately a million hernia surgeries each year in the United States, and an overwhelming majority of these procedures rely on mesh. In June 2019, there were approximately 1,000 new hernia mesh cases filed in U.S. courts. In addition to the possibility that a mesh can fail at any time, there is also a high rate of publicity surrounding hernia meshes, leading more plaintiffs to come forward.
For purposes of litigation, the most important thing is when a patient starts to experience symptoms of an injury. Even if the mesh was implanted many years ago, there can still be a cause of action because the statute of limitations only begins to run when the patient knew or should have known that they suffered an injury. Thus, even hernia meshes that may no longer be in use may still be the subject of litigation. When a mesh is recalled because of its danger, it simply means that the recall applies to the products that have not been implanted. Patients still keep the mesh in their body until it fails.
If you have had hernia mesh implanted and have suffered internal injuries, an infection or needed a second surgery, you may be eligible for compensation. Consult with a hernia mesh attorney to find out how you can file a claim in court that may entitle you to the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. The consultation is completely free, and you pay nothing to the attorney unless you receive a settlement or a jury award.