Understanding the Risks You Face From Defective Hernia Mesh and Your Right to Compensation for Your Injuries
Hernias are a very common medical problem where a weak spot in the abdominal wall causes organs, such as the stomach, diaphragm, or bowel, to protrude. Over half a million hernia surgical repairs are performed annually, and in the majority of them, hernia mesh is used to correct them.
Unfortunately, hernia mesh implants may be defective and can cause patients to suffer serious complications. If you suffered injuries due to the use of hernia mesh to repair your hernia, the experienced mass tort lawyers at Chris Hudson & Associates could help you obtain the compensation you deserve from the manufacturer of the hernia mesh implant.
What Is Hernia Mesh?
Hernia mesh is a surgical implant that provides extra support for damaged tissue around a hernia. During surgery, doctors place this mesh around the hernia to hold the damaged tissue together and strengthen it during the healing process. Mesh can be made from synthetic products or animal tissue, and there are many different shapes and sizes of mesh to repair various types of hernias. Synthetic meshes can be permanent implants or may be designed to dissolve in the body over time.
Surgeons can repair hernias without the use of these implants by stitching the damaged tissue surrounding the hernia together, but there is a likelihood of the hernia reoccurring with this type of surgery. The use of hernia mesh implants became widespread to avoid these problems. Unfortunately, there are many other serious health risks of certain types of hernia mesh—some life-threatening.
Leading Manufacturers of Hernia Mesh and Their Products
There are many manufacturers of hernia mesh implants. Leading companies that have manufactured hernia mesh that has failed include:
- Ethicon, which is a subsidiary company of Johnson & Johnson
- Covidien, which is now known as Medtronic Covidien
- R. Bard
- Gore Medical
Some mesh implants have been pulled from the market due to patient complaints and recalls by the FDA. Others still in use that have caused patients to suffer injuries include:
- Atrium C-Qur Mesh
- Medtronic Covidien Parietex
- Ethicon Physiomesh
- R. Bard PerFix Plug, 3DMax, Composix Kugel Patch, and other mesh implants
Complications Caused by Hernia Mesh Implants
Synthetic hernia mesh implants often use materials that can shrink, harden, migrate, or fail. Patients have suffered serious medical problems when this happens. Some of the complications associated with surgical hernia mesh are:
- Chronic infection, abscess, or sepsis, which can be life-threatening
- Adhesion where the implant sticks to internal tissue
- Hernia reoccurrence
- Obstruction of the bowels
- Perforations of organs
- Groin and testicle pain
- Permanent nerve damage
- Cancer if the implant becomes infected
Some of these complications can occur within weeks of hernia repair surgery, but in other cases, it can take months or years for these problems to develop.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Against Manufacturers
Many patients who suffered severe injuries due to the use of hernia mesh have filed product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of these medical devices. For example, in 2011, C.R. Bard settled approximately 3,000 cases over allegations of defects in its Kugel Mesh, which had been recalled by the FDA three times, for $184 million. Ethicon, Medtronic Covidien, and Atrium have also faced thousands of similar lawsuits. Some of the allegations in these cases include:
- The implants have design defects.
- There were problems with the manufacture of the hernia mesh.
- Manufacturers failed to adequately warn patients of the potentially serious risks of hernia mesh implants.
Most of these hernia mesh cases will be product liability actions. Product liability is an area of law that allows people to recover damages from manufacturers and sellers of dangerous or defective products.
A product liability lawsuit will usually be based on one of three possible kinds of defects. Design defects are errors in the fundamental design of a product that renders it unsafe for all users regardless of how well it is manufactured, manufacturing defects are errors in the actual creation of products that can be isolated cases or limited to small batches of products, and failure to warn claims involve products that did not contain suitable warning relating to possibly dangerous innocent uses of a product.
It is also possible that hernia mesh lawsuits will be medical malpractice cases in certain instances, such as when hernia mesh operations were not correctly performed. A medical malpractice case can be far more challenging that a product liability action.
Compensation Awarded in Surgical Hernia Mesh Lawsuits
If you suffered injuries due to a hernia mesh implant, you might have a product liability claim against its manufacturer. You may be entitled to these types of compensation:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Past and future lost earning capacity if you became disabled as a result of your injuries
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
Certain cases could also result in possible punitive damages (synonymous with vindictive damages and exemplary damages), but Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(b) establishes that punitive damages can only be awarded in “tort actions in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences.” Under Georgia Code § 51-12-5.1(c), punitive damages are awarded not as compensation to a plaintiff but solely to punish, penalize, or deter a defendant. Punitive damages have a maximum limit of $250,000, and 75 percent of punitive damages award must be paid into the Georgia treasury through the Office of the State Treasurer.
Why is mesh used to repair a hernia?
Surgeons often use mesh because it allows repairs to be performed without placing additional tension on the tissue. This reduces the likelihood of a hernia recurrence, and mesh is frequently used unless a patient has an active infection or sepsis. There are three types of hernia repair surgeries that require mesh: laparoscopic extraperitoneal repair, laparoscopic transabdominal preperitoneal patch repair, and open tension-free mesh repair. Open primary tissue approximation repair is a procedure that may involve Shouldice, Bassini, or McVay procedures and is designed to place less tension on the tissue.
How common are hernia mesh complications?
University of California Irvine (UCI) Health reported that surgical mesh products used in hernia repairs had been the subject of recalls by the FDA since March 2010. UCI reported that research published in 2014 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) analyzed approximately 2,000 surgeries between 1980 and 2012 and found that the use of surgical mesh results in fewer recurrences of hernias over five years. A separate 2016 JAMA study found that the long-term success of surgical mesh may be “offset in part by mesh-related complications” for some people whose hernias occur at the site of previous abdominal surgery. The British Medical Journal reported on September 27, 2018, as many as 170,000 patients who have had hernia mesh operations in the past six years could be experiencing complications. The 570,0000 hernia mesh operations that occurred in England over that period led leading surgeons to believe that the complication rate was between 12 percent and 30 percent, possibly affecting between 68,000 and 170,000 patients.
What is the difference between a class action lawsuit and multidistrict litigation (MDL)?
Class action lawsuits have some significant differences from MDL, with the first being who controls the actual case. In a class-action lawsuit, one person usually serves as the lead plaintiff but is serving the interests of a large group of similarly affected people. The group of people is considered a class, and the court must certify it. The outcome of the case will bind all plaintiffs unless they opt-out of the class.
MDL is different because it involves multiple lawsuits from a large group of plaintiffs who have experienced a similar wrong, but these individuals will maintain control of their actions. All cases will be heard in a single court by a single judge. The other significant difference between MDL and class action lawsuits concerns compensation, as class action lawsuits will result in a single award equally distributed among the members of the class, but MDL can result in many different outcomes, and people will each get their independent awards.
Hernia mesh cases can be common claims for both class action lawsuits and MDL, so you will want to make sure that you pick the venue that will be most beneficial for you. Discuss your case with a lawyer so you can fully understand all of your options and make an informed decision.
Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation Today
If you or a family member suffered injuries caused by a hernia mesh implant, our experienced mass tort attorneys could help you fight for the compensation that you are entitled to for your injuries. Take advantage of our offer of a free consultation in these cases to learn about your legal options and how we can assist you. Fill out our convenient online form or call our office directly at 888-991-8011 to schedule your appointment today.