Vaginal Mesh Lawsuits, Complications, Settlements

Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit – Complications, Recall, Settlements

Tracy Ray | March 28th, 2013

Vaginal Mesh StopwatchThousands of women have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits after suffering painful and life-altering complications from these devices. Complications can include perforated organs, chronic infections, mesh erosion, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), and scarring. Although a lawsuit cannot take away the injuries that victims of such complications experience, a lawsuit can potentially recover millions of dollars in compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of consortium (intimacy) due to dyspareunia, and other damages.

FDA warns of vaginal mesh complications

Vaginal mesh was approved by the FDA to treat stress urinary incontinence in 1996 and pelvic organ prolapse in 2002. Vaginal mesh surgery became a popular way to treat these conditions, which are common among older women: in 2010 alone, nearly 300,000 women were surgically implanted with vaginal mesh devices. But in July 2011, after receiving thousands of adverse event reports and reviewing studies of both the effectiveness and dangers of transvaginal mesh, the FDA issued a public safety announcement warning that an alarming 10 percent of woman implanted with vaginal mesh products experience complications.

Transvaginal mesh complications may include:

  • Pain in the vagina, abdomen, pelvis, or legs
  • Scarring
  • Chronic infections
  • Dyspareunia (painful intercourse)
  • Recorrence of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence due to mesh failure
  • Rejection of mesh by the body
  • Recurring urinary tract infections
  • Perforation of the bowels, bladder, or blood vessels
  • Mesh erosion or extrusion through the vaginal wall
  • Mesh erosion or extrusion into other organs such as the bladder, bowels, urethra, or rectum

The FDA warns that such complications are “not rare” and that there is no clear evidence that treating pelvic organ prolapse with vaginal mesh is more effective than non-mesh methods.

Vaginal mesh lawsuit defendants

Transvaginal mesh products are manufactured and distributed by a number of different companies. Among the most common defendants to be named in vaginal mesh lawsuits are:

  • American Medical Systerms, which makes the Elevate, Perigee, and Apogee brands of mesh
  • Boston Scientific, which makes the Pinnacle and Uphold vaginal mesh brands
  • C.R. Bard Inc., which makes the Avaulta, Pelvilace, Pelvisoft BioMesh, Pelvitex, and Pelvicol Accelular Collagen Matrix mesh products
  • Caldera Medical, which makes the Ascend Anterior and Ascend Posterior vaginal mesh implants
  • Johnson & Johnson/Ethicon, which makes the ObTape, Gynecare ProLift, Gynecare Prosima, and Gynecare TVT vaginal mesh implants

Multidistrict litigation

A multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidates federal lawsuits to streamline the litigation process. In an MDL, pretrial processes and discovery are combined, but each case retains its individuality and has its own trial and verdict or settlement. MDLs against five different defendants have been consolidated into five MDLs, which are being overseen by one judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The five defendants are:

  • American Medical Systems, Inc. (Multidistrict Litigation No. 2325)
  • Boston Scientific Corp. (Multidistrict Litigation No. 2326)
  • Coloplast (Multidistrict Litigation No. 2387)
  • C.R. Bard, Inc. (Multidistrict Litigation No. 2187)
  • Ethicon, Inc. (Multidistrict Litigation No. 2327)

In addition, lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s Mentor ObTape vaginal mesh have been consolidated in another MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia Johnson & Johnson has already reached settlements with some plaintiffs in that MDL.

Class action lawsuits

A class action lawsuit is different from an MDL. A class action lawsuit combines all the claims into one lawsuit with many plaintiffs, whereas in an MDL, each claim remains separate and individual. A class action lawsuit receives one verdict and one settlement, which is split among all the plaintiffs. In an MDL, each case receives its own trial and verdict or settlement. Vaginal mesh class action lawsuits have been formed in Australia and Canada, but not in the United States as of yet.

Noteworthy vaginal mesh verdicts and settlements

Jury verdicts and settlements in cases of vaginal mesh failure or complications can reach millions of dollars. Among the largest jury awards was $5.5 million awarded by a jury in the Kern County Superior Court of California. The plaintiff in that case had suffered extreme pain and was forced to undergo eight surgeries to deal with vaginal mesh complications. The jury awarded $5 million to the plaintiff and $500,000 to her husband for loss of consortium.

In the more recent case of Gross v. Gynecare, a jury in New Jersey awarded $3.35 million in compensatory damages to Linda Gross, who had suffered complications from an Ethicon Prolift mesh. The jury also awarded an additional $7.6 million in punitive damages, which makes this the costliest verdict to date against a vaginal mesh manufacturer.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries from a mesh product, consult a vaginal mesh lawyer for a free evaluation of your case.