Thousands of injured women nationwide have filed lawsuits in state and federal courts against manufacturers of surgical pelvic mesh implants, claiming that the design of the product was defective and led to serious side effects and permanent injuries. These serious health complications include vaginal mesh erosion, vaginal scarring, contraction or shrinking of the mesh, infection, bleeding, neuro-muscular problems, onset or resurgence of urinary problems, and severe pelvic discomfort and pain.
Companies including C.R. Bard Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., American Medical Systems, Covidien, and Johnson & Johnson developed these transvaginal mesh devices, which were used to treat conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence (SUI). Pelvic mesh was first placed on the market in 2004. Transvaginal and bladder sling repair surgeries using polypropylene (plastic) mesh products allegedly put patients at an even greater risk.
In spite of a 2011 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning about dangerous complications from surgical mesh, vaginal mesh and bladder sling injury cases continue to arise. The FDA has reported that from 2008-2010 there were 2,874 cases relating to surgical mesh injuries, death, or malfunctions, with 1,503 for POP repairs and 1,371 for SUI repairs. In April 2014, the FDA pushed for stricter safety requirements, proposing that the plastic mesh medical device be classified as “high risk.”
On September 11, 2014, a Dallas jury awarded a woman $73.4 million in a lawsuit against Boston Scientific, alleging that she suffered injuries from the Massachusetts-based company’s transvaginal mesh implant device. The woman faced severe and painful complications after the insertion of an Obtryx sling in a 2011 surgery. The woman received $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages, making this verdict the largest settlement to date in a vaginal mesh lawsuit. “This woman was seeking help with minor urine leakage and wound up with a catastrophic, life-altering injury that required four major surgeries. It’s a tragedy that these slings are still on the market,” stated the woman’s attorney. More than 20,000 mesh lawsuits have been filed against Boston Scientific so far.
Earlier in September 2014, a woman won a $3.27 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc. unit in a federal trial in West Virginia. The woman claimed to have suffered serious permanent injuries from Ethicon’s faulty pelvic mesh product. An additional 30,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson for personal injury claims and for failing to warn patients and doctors of the risks regarding the transvaginal mesh device.
Although the injured women in the most recent pelvic mesh and bladder sling lawsuits prevailed, two earlier this summer resulted in defense verdicts. Before these defense verdicts, juries in New Jersey and West Virginia ruled that J&J’s and C.R. Bard’s implants caused women’s injuries and ordered the companies to pay a total of more than $13 million in damages.
Learn more about transvaginal mesh complications and your legal rights.