Some Transvaginal Mesh Makers Settling Cases While Other Resist
The introduction of transvaginal mesh in the 1990s promised to give relief to women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence (SIU). Over the years, millions of women have received the mesh from various manufacturers including Boston Scientific, Coloplast, Cook Medical, Neomedic, American Medical Systems, C.R. Bard, and the Ethicon Unit of Johnson & Johnson.
SIU and pelvic organ prolapse can occur after childbirth or during menopause due to weakened pelvic muscles. Pelvic organ prolapse refers to the gradual dropping of the rectum, bladder or uterus into the vaginal area. SIU occurs when weakened pelvic muscles unexpectedly results in urine leaking.
Problems with the device occur when the mesh begins to erode through the vaginal wall. The bladder and bowl may also be perforated by the mesh. Since 2008 when the first FDA warning was issued and 2011 when another alert and warning was publicly issued regarding severe complications with the transvaginal mesh, courts in various states have been flooded with thousands of claims.
Common problems from the mesh include:
- Vaginal scarring and shrinkage
- Pain while sitting
- Pain during intercourse
- Vaginal pain
- Injury to other organs including perforation
- Vaginal bleeding and discharge
- Neurological complications
- Chronic severe pain
Designed to support the pelvic muscles, the transvaginal mesh has, according to the tens of thousands of filed claims, failed miserably in its promise to help women suffering from these conditions and has led to their developing infections, suffering extreme pain and undergoing multiple revision surgeries in some cases that are not always successful. In one New Jersey case where a jury awarded $11.1 million in punitive damages, the plaintiff was forced to undergo 18 surgeries. Unfortunately, for some women the mesh has become impossible to remove so that these women are forced to endure chronic pain for years to come.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases where the defendant has been found to be grossly negligent or exhibits willful or reckless indifference to the rights and safety of others or should have known that its acts or omissions would likely lead to harm. In the successful suits against Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers where such damages were awarded, plaintiffs have shown that the defendants continued to market, distribute and profit from its vaginal mesh products despite valid evidence it had a high risk of causing severe injuries to women.
Some Manufacturers are Settling
After years of litigation resulting in massive verdicts against some manufacturers of the transvaginal mesh, Boston Scientific announced it had reached a settlement with 2,970 of the claims against its Pinnacle product for $119 million. Two recent verdicts against Boston Scientific, one in Miami for $26.7 million to be paid to four women, and another in West Virginia for $18.5 million, prompted the company to seek a settlement since over 22,000 claims remain outstanding. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers share the same sentiment despite the multi-million dollar verdicts that plaintiff lawyers are obtaining in individual suits.
Other Manufacturers Resisting Settlement Talks
Other manufacturers of the transvaginal mesh have resisted settlement although the Ethicon Unit of Johnson & Johnson is in settlement talks. C.R. Bard lost a $5.5 million case in 2012 but has yet to follow Boston Scientific or J & J in seeking formal settlement discussions regarding the outstanding suits against it.
Thousands of claims against the manufacturers that remain unresolved are part of multi-district litigation or MDL in the U.S District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in Charleston, West Virginia. Numerous cases remain pending in various state courts around the country.