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Hernia Mesh Lawsuits and Settlements

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Hernia Mesh Lawsuit

The lawsuits involving the hernia mesh medical devices that are being filed in 2018 claim the products are failing at a rate higher than expected, and causing additional surgeries, infections, bowel obstruction, organ damage, scar tissue and chronic pain. Several of the hernia mesh products have been defectively designed and are causing unnecessary repairs and injuries that would not have occurred if a substitute mesh product or sutures had been utilized.

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What is Hernia Mesh?

When a hernia occurs, the resulting opening in the tissue must be repaired to avoid further damage. The most common solution for repair is a hernia mesh, which is a screen-like surgical implant used to patch the tear and prevent another obtrusion. Hernias have a high recurrence rate, but hernia meshes decrease the chance of recurrence more than any other treatment. The use of a mesh product can be beneficial in the repair of certain hernias, and often results in a faster and long-term recovery compared to other techniques. No current treatment for a hernia is without potential problems.

Types of hernia mesh

There are many types of hernia mesh products that come in different shapes and sizes suited for different surgical repairs. These products include:

  • Patches – designed to go over or under the weakened or damaged tissue
  • Plugs – designed to fit inside the hole in the tissue
  • Sheets – designed to be cut and fitted for the patient’s specific hernia

Hernia meshes also have different material classifications, and fall into the following categories:

  • Absorbable – degrades, loses strength over time, not for long-term reinforcement (new tissue growth provides strength to the repair).
  • Non-absorbable – permanent implant, provides lasting reinforcement to repair site.
  • Coated/Composite – made with a coat of absorbable fatty acids, cellulose or collagen to avoid intestines adhering to the mesh (most non-absorbable are coated).
  • Synthetic – comes in woven or non-woven sheets, can be absorbable, non-absorbable or a combination of both. Most common surgical meshes are made of synthetic plastic called polypropylene.
  • Animal derived – made of animal tissue, usually from pig or cow (intestine or skin) and is absorbable.

The top hernia mesh manufacturers are Atrium, Bard, B.Braun Melsungen, AG, Ethicon, Gore Medical, LifeCell Corporation and Medtronic.

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Side Effects of Hernia Mesh

Hernia mesh can sometimes result in severe complications that generally affect the abdominal region, intestines and bowels. According to hernia mesh lawsuits, the following are the most predominant mesh-related side effects:

  • Perforated intestines
  • Perforated bowels
  • Intestinal fistulae (an abnormal passage/connection between two organs)
  • Bowel obstruction/resection
  • Peritonitis (Inflammation of the abdominal wall membrane)
  • Abdominal wall tear
  • Abscesses
  • Sepsis
  • Ingrown mesh (into the abdominal wall, intestine, or other organs)
  • Organ puncture
  • Hernia recurrence
  • Chronic pain
  • Infection

One of the big differences between using a mesh product and using sutures is that a mesh can migrate (move) or shrink, and then cause bowel perforations (holes or tears), organ damage, obstructions, and additional surgeries. This is especially true if the mesh product is faulty or contains a polypropylene coating. If a perforation occurs, this can result in a serious infection known as sepsis. If you have received a hernia mesh, some of the symptoms to watch for include constipation, fatigue, fever, irritable bowel, severe pain, and urinary issues. If you experience these symptoms, you should immediately report them to your treating physician.

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Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Information

Beginning in 2005, reports started to surface that hernia mesh made by various companies were causing serious complications. C.R. Bard, the manufacturer of the Kugel mesh patch, were forced to issue 11 different recalls for various Kugel models between 2005 and 2007 due to a defect that caused bowel perforations. Since 2007, over 3,000 hernia mesh recall lawsuits were filed across the United States.

In 2013, hernia mesh manufacturer Atrium was forced to recall over a thousand C-Qur models by the FDA, and in 2015, had a permanent injunction entered by the District Court of New Hampshire preventing them from manufacturing and distributing the C-Qur. Ethicon issued several recalls of their ‘Proceed’ hernia mesh in 2011 and 2014, and though a recall was never issued of their Physiomesh in the U.S., the company voluntarily pulled their product off the market in May 2016 in what is called a “market withdrawal”, due to reported complications including hernia recurrence, removal surgery, infections, wound issues and abdominal pain.

As of this time, there have been no large group hernia mesh lawsuit settlements involving mesh failures or injuries caused by the Physiomesh, C-QUR, or Ventralex mesh products. Generally, however, large groups of settlements do not occur until such time as a few cases are tried before a jury, and the manufacturer is able to more thoroughly understand its financial risk.  Our attorneys are committed to investigating and pursuing claims against all manufacturers of defective hernia mesh products.


Do I qualify for a hernia mesh lawsuit?

Criteria for a legitimate hernia mesh lawsuit includes evidence of proper placement of the hernia mesh device (no clear evidence of medical malpractice) with one or more of the following issues:

  • Hernia recurrence
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Adhesions
  • Obstructions
  • Mesh migration
  • Fistula
  • Bacterial infections

Furthermore, these issues must be accompanied by significant medical treatment or additional (corrective) surgeries to remove the device and repair internal organs or any other related damage.


Recent hernia mesh lawsuit settlements

Our medical device attorneys are investigating all hernia mesh injury claims from patients around the country that have reported severe complications from products that are currently on the market, including Ethicon’s Physiomesh and Proceed, Atrium’s C-Qur, Covidien’s Parietex, and C.R. Bard Inc.’s Kugel, Sepramesh, 3DMax and PerFix. Hundreds of lawsuits are being filed around the country against these brands of hernia mesh. Some major surgical mesh lawsuits of note include:

  • Ethicon’s Physiomesh, cleared to market through the FDA’s 510(k) process (does not require clinical trials for testing) in April 2010. A number of lawsuits have been filed claiming that the mesh leads to serious health issues and that the company waited too long to pull their defective product off the market when they were aware of it’s dangerous risks.
  • Ethicon was hit with a $20 million jury verdict in a surgical mesh lawsuit filed by a New Jersey woman in April 2017, who claimed she was in constant pain due to her TVT-Secur mesh.
  • C.R. Bard agreed to a $184 million settlement in 2011 in a case involving around 2,600 people injured by their Kugel patch, and settled a separate case in 2010 for $1.3 million in damages from the same product. Many more Kugel patch lawsuits are in progress, including a suit filed by the children of a woman who allegedly died of sepsis due to a defective Kugel patch.

hernia mesh complications, problems and failures

Hernia surgeries are one of the most common surgeries in the U.S. among all age groups. Children, adults and elderly patients who develop hernias often have hernia mesh implant surgery to repair the hernia. This is due in large part to the high recurrence rate associated with non-mesh repair. Simply using sutures to repair a hernia can result in a hernia recurrence rate of up to 20%. In addition, using sutures to repair a hernia requires a much more invasive open surgery, whereas hernia repair with mesh can be done with minimally invasive laparoscopy. 


Why Does Hernia Mesh Fail?

Hernia mesh (and any medical devices) complications or failure can occur for any number of reasons, and symptoms can develop months, or even years after surgery. Among the most common of these reasons for failure are defective mesh design, poor choice of mesh material and the use of too much hernia mesh material during a procedure. Patients may show signs hernia mesh failure symptoms anywhere from one week to 39 months after their repair procedure. Generally, the largest contributing factor to whether or not a patient experiences hernia mesh failure symptoms is the amount of mesh used to repair the initial hernia. This is why it is recommended that surgeons use as little mesh as possible for these procedures, to decrease the likelihood of causing further complications.

When a medical device fails or malfunctions, it tends to inundate the patient with a range of different symptoms, from slight discomfort to severe bodily pain, and occasionally can result in death. Some patients may show symptoms of failure immediately, and others may not show any symptoms until weeks, months or even years after their procedures.

A patient is far more likely to develop hernia mesh failure symptoms after they’ve been subjected to a number of combined “risk factors”. These factors, which greatly contribute to the probability of a patient’s infection, include the type of mesh used, the type of surgery performed, and the kind of preventative measures taken to prevent these infections.


Hernia Mesh Complications and Symptoms

Some symptoms that indicate hernia mesh failure include:

  • Bloating, inflammation, pain, infection
  • Inability to pass stools (constipation) or bowel obstruction
  • Heat and/or soreness around the surgical site
  • A noticeable lump in or around the area of the original hernia
  • Fever, nausea and vomiting
  • Hernia recurrence
  • Fibrosis
  • Thrombosis
  • Calcification
  • Mesh migration (movement within the body)
  • Mesh shrinkage/contraction
  • Sepsis


Reduce the Risk of Hernia Mesh Failure

If your hernia mesh device was made of inferior materials or was flawed in its design, failure is essentially inevitable. However, regardless of the device’s quality, there are some proactive steps you can take to help minimize the probability of hernia mesh failure such as:

  • Consuming a healthy diet (add extra fiber and increase your water consumption)
  • Maintaining a consistent, weekly exercise schedule of at least 90 minutes of aerobic exercise
  • Avoiding products that contain nicotine (cigarettes, E-cigarettes, cigars, nicotine gum)

Reducing the risk of re-herniation is also very important, which can be avoided by refraining from heavy lifting and reducing abdominal strain. These steps likely will not prevent hernia mesh failure, but they will help with minimizing risk and maximizing your chances of a successful recovery process.


Pennsylvania Hernia Mesh Lawsuits - Compensation Amounts Since 2015

  • In December 2017, a New Jersey jury awarded $15 million in a surgical mesh lawsuit against Ethicon. The award included $10 million in punitive damages and $1 million for the plaintiff’s spouse.
  • In September 2017, a Pennsylvania jury awarded nearly $60 million in a surgical, pelvic mesh lawsuit in Philadelphia. The case was filed against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson. Of the $60 million, the vast majority, $50 million, was awarded for punitive damages.
  • Also in 2017, a Philadelphia jury awarded $20 million to a woman in a vaginal mesh lawsuit; $2.5 million in compensatory damages and the remaining amount, $17.5 million was for punitive damages.
  • Previously in Philadelphia, there were two similar verdicts in surgical mesh cases; one in 2015 for $12.5 million and one in 2016 for $13.5 million.

Lawsuits Against Hernia Mesh Manufacturers

As of 2018, thousands of lawsuits are pending due to various complications patients have experienced from hernia mesh surgeries. Read more about hernia mesh complications and problems. These lawsuits are product liability lawsuits and based on the principle that a product manufacturer can be held liable when a product causes injuries due to a manufacturing defect, a design defect or insufficient warnings (failure to warn). Hernia mesh lawsuits may be filed individually or may be part of a class action. In general, class action lawsuits for hernia mesh are appropriate where a group of plaintiffs have similar lawsuits based on the same legal issues or claims. Hernia mesh class actions may or may not be appropriate, because there are multiple hernia mesh manufacturers currently being sued and because the legal claims and damages vary from patient to patient. It is crucial to speak to a hernia mesh injury lawyer to determine whether an individual lawsuit or class action is the right decision for a specific hernia mesh lawsuit.

The more serious the complication, the greater the pain and suffering. For example, a patient who had to have a portion of infected bowel removed due to faulty hernia mesh would have greater pain and suffering than a patient who had a fairly simple revision hernia surgery. Likewise, a patient who developed chronic, debilitating pain would have far greater pain and suffering than a patient who developed an abscess that healed within a few weeks. In hernia mesh lawsuits, claims may be made for both past and future expenses and damages, such as future medical bills and future wage loss. It’s not uncommon in serious complication cases for a hernia mesh patient to have substantial future expenses and damages. A patient who needs future surgeries or medical treatment will undoubtedly incur medical expenses. Projections of those costs may be included in the claim for financial compensation. In addition, claims may be made for future pain and suffering. A patient who has developed permanent and serious chronic pain as a result of faulty hernia mesh would be able to make a compensation claim for future pain and suffering.


Spousal Claims for Compensation for Hernia Mesh Complications

In many cases, the spouse of a hernia mesh patient who suffered a complication may be able to file a derivative claim known as a loss of consortium claim. This type of claim is based on the injury to the spouse which creates a ripple effect that harms the marital relationship. The uninjured spouse may have a claim for the damage to the marriage, including companionship, comfort, etc. For example, a hernia mesh patient who suffers chronic pain also suffers from major depression that affects his role in the marriage, and he is unable to resume a physical relationship with his wife. The wife may file a loss of consortium claim for the harm caused to the marriage by the hernia mesh injury.

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