When transvaginal mesh products first hit the medical market in 1996, medical professionals and patients alike were excited about the possibilities. Transvaginal mesh products first came on the market to treat incontinence and hernias. Doctors quickly began to use them to treat pelvic prolapse or the collapse of organs in the pelvic area. Even though patients who received the mesh implants sought medical treatment and care, they often ended up with unwanted side effects after receiving a transvaginal mesh implant. As complications and unwanted side effects from transvaginal mesh implants became common, patients and medical professionals began to wonder why complication rates were so high.
What is transvaginal mesh?
A transvaginal mesh is a product that goes in the body in order to support certain tissues. It looks like netting. The purpose of a mesh is to act as supportive tissue when the body’s own tissues aren’t strong enough to support organs on its own.
If you have a transvaginal mesh implant, it might stay in your body indefinitely. There are also mesh products that dissolve over time as the tissues grow around it. Mesh products come in a variety of synthetic and animal materials. A mesh product helps the body heal. It acts as tissue when the body isn’t able to make its own tissue effectively.
What is transvaginal mesh meant to treat? Is that how doctors are using it?
In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration approved transvaginal mesh products as a treatment for urinary incontinence or a hernia. However, quickly after its approval, medical professionals began to use mesh products to treat organ prolapse. When muscles that support the pelvis aren’t strong enough to support organs in the region, the organs can shift out of place. A common problem in the pelvic area is when the vagina shifts out of place causing pain.
Patients who receive the mesh implants report a variety of problems and complications including:
- Urinary difficulties
- Corrective surgeries
- Organ perforation
In 2008, the FDA issued a warning notification about problems associated with mesh products. They changed the classification of mesh products from moderate risk to high risk.
Are transvaginal mesh complications hard to treat?
If a patient experiences a problem with a mesh, it can be hard to correct. Mesh products are meant to be adhesive. It’s difficult to remove a mesh if it becomes infected or causes complications because they’re not made to be removed. In addition, surgeons have to be careful as they perform corrective surgery because they can tear nearby organs and tissues as they try to alleviate complications caused by the mesh.
- Transvaginal mesh recipients began to file suit for compensation because of complications from receiving mesh products. In total, more than 42,000 victims have brought claims. Victims have brought claims against the following manufacturers:
Johnson & Johnson
- Boston Scientific
- C.R. Bard
- American Medical Systems
- Cook Medical
When the first transvaginal mesh lawsuits entered the legal system in 2014, mesh manufacturers tried taking the cases to jury trial. They hoped the juries would dismiss the cases and that their victories would deter other victims from coming forward. However, transvaginal mesh manufacturers quickly learned that juries often side with mesh victims.
In 2013, one victim received a $5.5 million verdict in her favor. She based her claims on the mesh’s defective design and the company’s failure to warn the public about dangers associated with the product. Another victim received a $12.5 million verdict after needing multiple corrective procedures from a mesh implant. One manufacturer took a Florida case all the way to the Court of Appeals. The court upheld the $26.7 million jury verdict in favor of the victims on theories of defective design for four different victims.
Following the series of favorable jury verdicts, transvaginal mesh manufacturers began settling cases in large numbers. In 2014, American Medical Systems settled 20,000 cases. Coloplast and Bard also settled several hundred lawsuits in the same time frame. Manufacturers continue to work towards the settlement of cases after test cases in front of juries went overwhelmingly in favor of victims.
Consolidation of cases
Because of the large number of claims, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multilitigaton consolidated many claims in the Southern District of West Virginia. The consolidation efforts aim to conserve resources for the courts and for victims. However, you may still file your case in federal or state court throughout the country.
What’s the basis for the lawsuits?
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits are products liability lawsuits. The basis for the claims is that manufacturers put a dangerous product on the market. The lawsuits say that there were things that the companies could have done and should have done in order to make their products safer.
One of the grounds for the cases is that the transvaginal mesh manufacturers didn’t adequately test their products. They say that they only tested the products for use for incontinence. When manufacturers began marketing the meshes for other uses, victims say they should have tested the products for those purposes. Victims say that they may have chosen not to receive a mesh implant if they had complete information about their effectiveness and complications associated with mesh devices.
Failure to warn
Victims also say that mesh manufacturers could have done more to warn doctors about mesh complications. They say that surgeons don’t receive adequate training for how to use mesh products and what can go wrong with mesh implant surgery. When a manufacturer doesn’t fairly warn consumers about the dangers of their products, they may be liable when their product causes harm to an unsuspecting public.
Finally, victims base their claims on defective design. They say that mesh manufacturers could have used more care in order to design better products. To succeed on this type of claim, a victim must show that there are better types of designs available.
A litigant can bring any of these types of complaints or all of these complaints in their case. Ultimately, it’s up to medical manufacturers to make and sell safe products. When they sell products that are unsafe, the medical manufacturers may be strictly liable for the damages that result from their conduct.
What can I do if I’m a victim?
If you have complications from a transvaginal mesh, the mesh manufacturer may be legally responsible for your losses. You can bring a claim that covers your financial losses like medical bills and missed work. Your claim can also include a request for compensation for emotional anguish and physical pain. Your transvaginal mesh attorney can work with you to determine all the types of compensation that you may be eligible to claim.