Overview of Hernia Mesh Lawsuits, Complications, and Pain
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
A hernia can be a painful and debilitating condition, and in some cases, it can even be life-threatening. While medical intervention and even lifestyle changes can alleviate some of the symptoms, surgery is the only effective way to repair a hernia.
Although surgery is usually very effective, in many cases there is a high chance of the hernia returning, which means more chronic pain for the sufferer. While not ideal for every form of hernia repair, some studies show that, where suitable, a mesh can help prevent against hernia recurrence.
But in some circumstances, complications can arise with your mesh. If that does happen, what are your rights? And can you claim any personal injury compensation?
When Can Hernia Mesh Complications Occur?
More than one million hernia surgeries are performed each year in the United States and more than 90% of that number rely on mesh implants as part of the surgical procedure. Of those that have meshes fitted, just under one third experience complications or side-effects post-surgery.
Common complications include:
- Adhesion – The FDA defines adhesion as “scar-like tissue that sticks tissues together.” It can cause chronic pain and can also lead to potentially fatal bowel obstructions.
- Bowel obstruction – If your mesh sticks to your intestines, it can cause a bowel obstruction. This is a very dangerous condition and should be treated immediately. Symptoms include feelings of nausea, vomiting, and an inability to pass gas or stools.
- Bowel perforation – Perforation of your bowel can happen if your mesh punctures your bowel. It may allow bacteria or fecal matter to enter your abdominal cavity which can lead to peritonitis or even sepsis. Medical professionals classify bowel perforation as a life-threatening emergency which needs immediate treatment. Symptoms can include acute abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and a rigid feeling to your abdomen.
- Infection – Infections can range from minor to major and in some cases, symptoms may not appear until years after the surgery was performed. Treatments can range from antimicrobial treatment to surgery to remove the mesh. Symptoms can include fever, flu-like feelings, and inflammation.
- Rejection – In some cases, the materials your mesh is made of may trigger your body’s immune response as it rejects the mesh. Symptoms of rejection include redness or tenderness at the site of the surgery, flu-like symptoms, and tenderness or pain.
- Migration – Migration occurs if the mesh detaches from the point of surgery and then migrates into the abdomen or other areas. Though relatively rare, this can lead to more serious issues such as fistulas, adhesions, fistulas, and bowel obstruction or perforation. There may be no symptoms when migration first occurs or the patient may experience severe pain.
- Recurrence – Recurrence is when your hernia returns. This can happen naturally, because of poor lifestyle or health, or because of other complications such a migration or detachment.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
If you have suffered complications as a result of a mesh implant, whether due to human error or due to a defectively designed product, then you may be entitled to compensation.
The statute of limitations refers to the period of time within which your claim must be submitted to the court system. Michigan’s statute of limitations on hernia mesh cases is three years from the date the injury occurred.
How Can I Be Compensated?
There is no average compensation for mesh lawsuit cases. Each case depends very much on individual circumstances. The CR Bard / Davol mass tort, for example, paid out about $70,000 to each plaintiff, though a separate case for the same product paid out $1.5 million.
The three areas where a court may award damages includes:
- Financial damages such as medical bills, loss of wages etc.
- Non-economic damages for pain and suffering, emotional or psychological distress etc.
- Punitive damages – which are rarely awarded – to punish the product’s manufacturer where the court believes there was willful negligence.
In many cases, the defendant, via their attorneys or insurance company, will wish to settle out of court. Initial offers of settlement are usually low and we rarely advise clients to accept a first offer unless it is reasonable.
What Do I Do if My Mesh Failed?
If your mesh has failed and you believe human error or defective materials are to blame, then you should immediately speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer with experience in medical malpractice and product liability litigation.
Are You Eligible to File a Hernia Mesh Implants Complications Lawsuit?
If you have suffered any complications as a result of a mesh repair, then you may be eligible to pursue compensation. Those complications can include chronic pain, bowel obstruction, or any of the other issues listed above. And if you have had to undergo revision surgery due to a failed mesh, then you may also be entitled to compensation.
Lawsuits Arising From Hernia Mesh-Related Injuries
- Defective design of the hernia mesh products.
- Manufacturing defects in the mesh.
- Improper labeling of the product or failure to warn patients of possible complications.
- Medical malpractice.
There have been a number of high-profile mesh lawsuits in recent years. One of the most notable has been the case against Atrium’s C-QUR mesh. The long-running series of cases have involved product recalls, four occasions where FDA inspections reported numerous violations including manufacturing and sterilization issues.
When to Contact an Attorney
Given Michigan’s statute of limitations, you should contact an experienced attorney at our law firm as soon as possible after experiencing any issues or complications with your mesh device. Your attorney can evaluate your case, examine the evidence available, and advise you whether your lawsuit has a chance of success.
Who Can I Sue for Hernia Mesh Complications?
In the overwhelming majority of cases, any lawsuit is directed against the manufacturer of the mesh. There are in excess of 70 hernia mesh products available on the market today and most of those are safe and have encountered few if any problems. But there are a number of companies whose name crops up regularly in mesh lawsuits, sometimes due to defective designs and sometimes due to issues in the manufacturing process. If you have had a mesh fitted which was made by any of the companies listed below then you may have grounds to sue them:
- Covidien – Medtronic
- Atrium – Maquet – Getinge Group
- Davol – C.R. Bard
In some cases, there may be evidence of medical malpractice. For example, if the surgeon has inserted the mesh incorrectly, or where no notice was given to the patient of the possible complications that may arise from fitting a mesh implant.
How Much Does This Cost? Is There Any Risk?
Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., operates on what is called a contingency basis. What this means is that you pay no fees unless we win the case for you. In any sort of personal injury, medical malpractice, or product liability suit, there is always some risk that you will lose your case if the court feels there is insufficient evidence to award you compensation. But there is no financial risk to you whatsoever.
Why Are Lawsuits Being Filed?
The main reason hernia mesh lawsuits are being filed is that in recent years, more people are alleging they suffered serious injuries or complications, had to have further invasive surgeries, or had to undergo revision surgery. As of September 2019, there were almost 7,000 pending lawsuits against mesh manufacturers.
The majority of pending cases are under what is known as multidistrict litigation (MDLs). This is a special legal procedure under federal law which is meant to help facilitate speedier resolution of complex cases such as product liability. As most mesh lawsuits are against manufacturers, this falls under product liability.
Once we evaluate your case, we can advise on whether it is best to pursue a solo lawsuit or whether we can join a relevant MDL.
What Can I Get Out of Lawsuit?
It is virtually impossible to make a prediction as to what award would be made, if any. Each case may have its own unique characteristics and each person may have experienced different levels of pain and suffering, and had to undergo different numbers of surgeries, etc.
The Wrap Up
A hernia is an uncomfortable and painful condition. When we undergo surgery to relieve that condition, we put our confidence and trust in our doctors and in the surgical team who carries out any procedure such as implanting a hernia mesh. By extension, we also put our trust in the companies who manufacture these products. We expect the highest standards of quality in the materials they use and in the manufacturing process employed.
When something goes wrong, it is only natural that you and your loved ones look for someone to blame. As a multitude of court cases, as well as FDA reports have shown, that blame all too often lies with the manufacturer. Poor design, shoddy materials, or shortcomings in the production process have led to further pain and suffering for thousands of Americans.
Seeking restitution for the mistakes of these multi-billion dollar companies is only right and fair. Here at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. we have a team of highly experienced and skilled attorneys and litigators. This team has vast experience of product liability cases and will work to ensure you have the best possible outcome.
And in nurse attorney, Eileen E. Kroll, we have someone with the skills to interpret medical records and talk to medical professionals involved in the case. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and to give you an honest appraisal of the best way to progress. To schedule your complimentary appointment, why not call us today toll-free at 866-MICH-LAW.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.