Unfortunately, not every visit to the hospital to treat a health problem ends with a successful surgery and full recovery. In some cases, medical malpractice causes patients to suffer severe injury or actually lose their lives. In other instances, a defective medical device can cause harm to patients. In this article, we will discuss the implications of defective hernia mesh products and how to file a lawsuit successfully. We encourage you to contact one of the experienced hernia mesh lawyers at McDonald Worley and give us the full details about your surgery and the subsequent symptoms of hernia mesh problems.
In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration has issued recalls for several brands of defective mesh products. For this reason, two key data you should tell us during your free case evaluation is the type of hernia mesh you received and when you had your surgery.
What Is a Hernia?
A hernia represents a bulging occurring in the abdominal cavity, caused by weakened and damaged muscles. They can no longer support the weight of the organs, which eventually protrude through the tear. Left untreated, hernias can lead to severe or even life-threatening conditions, such as bowel obstruction or bowel perforation.
Hernias are of two categories: abdominal or groin hernias. However, this is just a basic categorization, because there are many types of hernias:
- epigastric hernia – it is caused by fatty tissue pushing between the belly button and the lower part of the sternum (the lower part of the frontal rib cage)
- femoral hernia – this is a rare form of hernia, where fat tissues pushes down the upper thigh through the lower belly
- hiatal hernia – in this instance, the stomach bulges upwards through the diaphragm (the tissue separating the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity)
- incisional hernia – this type of hernia can be caused by a prior surgery and can appear years after the respective procedure was performed, being caused by a weakening of the sutured area
- inguinal hernia – in this case, the intestines push through a weakened spot in the lower belly. This is the most frequent type of hernia, accounting for up to 96% of all cases
- umbilical hernia – affecting mainly newborns, in this instance the intestines push through a muscle in the area of the belly button.
The Role of Hernia Mesh
For many decades, doctors would repair a hernia by suturing (stitching) the tear. However, they discovered that this method is not reliable, because an already weakened muscle was prone to tear again, requiring a new hernia surgery.
According to a study, the principle of using an artificial mesh to repair a hernia has been proposed as early as the 1950s. However, doctors have actually started the surgical repair of hernias using meshes during the 1980s. The weak spot in the patient’s body, such as the abdominal wall, would be thus reinforced with the artificial mesh, being able to support the weight of the internal organs and fat tissue.
Ideally, the mesh would stay securely in place for the rest of the patient’s life. In reality, many patients started reporting issues regarding hernia mesh devices, from abdominal pain to allergic reactions. After thousands of hernia mesh problems, doctors and regulatory bodies started analyzing the products used in hernia surgery more closely. This is when hernia mesh litigation actions started getting more common in courts across the US.
The Most Common Hernia Mesh Complications
Patients with hernia mesh implants who needed additional surgeries to solve the issue suffered from:
- mesh migration – when the mesh device erodes and then pieces of it migrate to other parts of the patient’s body
- mesh shrinkage – the medical device shrinks inside the patient’s body, causing additional internal injuries and requiring a new hernia mesh surgery
- adhesion – the scar tissue at the surgery site caused the nearby organs to become bound to the implant
- organ perforation – part of the mesh migrates and perforates nearby organs
- intestinal blockage – the defective mesh may lead to bowel obstruction, disrupting the patient’s normal bowel movements
- rejection – the patient’s body rejects the mesh implant
- recurrence – a defective device may cause the initial problem to occur again, requiring repeated hernia repair surgery.
The Main Reasons of Hernia Mesh Failure: Design Defects and Manufacturing Defects
Let us now consider the reason for filing a hernia mesh lawsuit. Whom do you sue? The hospital? The doctor who performed the surgery? Medical device manufacturers? Most hernia mesh victims are looking for compensation for economic damages and non-economic damages because they received defective hernia mesh implants.
As we explained at the beginning of this article, the FDA has already issued recalls for a series of products with a defective design or manufacturing defects. Here are some of the most problematic defective products that may have been used in your surgery and entitle you to file legal claims against mesh manufacturers:
This mesh is manufactured by a company called Ethicon and was touted as a superior device with a 5-layer design that would offer superior strength. In reality, the Ethicon Physiomesh device caused a fluid buildup in many patients and in May 2016 Ethicon issued an urgent notice telling all healthcare providers to stop using Physiomesh.
Manufactured by Atrium Medical, the C-QUR hernia mesh was recalled by the FDA in 2013 because it could stick to the inner packaging during shipping in conditions of high humidity. Although it did not actually cause patient injuries, various studies indicated that it posed a high risk of adhesion and infection to internal tissue.
The Kugel mesh, produced by Davol, a C.R. Bard company, had an initial recall in 2005 because patients reported severe pain, infection and even hernia recurrence. After being redesigned, the product caused supplementary medical issues and was recalled again, in 2006 and 2007. The company had to pay millions of dollars in hernia mesh settlements to thousands of patients across the US. Other C.R. Bard products with design defects are 3DMax, PerFix, and Sepramesh.
The manufacturer of this defective device is Covidien, a Medtronic company. By contrast to other hernia mesh devices, which are made of polypropylene, the Parietex hernia mesh is made of polyester. This makes it extremely lightweight, causing difficulties to surgeons to position it correctly over connective tissue in order to repair the hernia. Also, the edges of this mesh are not sealed, causing organ perforation.
Common Complications of Hernia Mesh Failure
Patients who filed a hernia mesh claim or lawsuit experienced a series of severe and debilitating symptoms. The most common health issues caused by the implant surgery using a mesh with defective design are:
- chronic pain in the connective tissue and joints of the body
- urinary incontinence
- nerve damage
- organ damage
- testicular pain
- abnormal tissue growth (fistula formation).
Also, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a list of hernia mesh complications observed in reviewed cases prior to product recall, from hernia recurrence to bowel obstruction and infection. The federal agency clearly stated that:
“Many complications related to hernia repair with surgical mesh that have been reported to the FDA have been associated with recalled mesh products that are no longer on the market. […] In the FDA’s analysis of medical adverse event reports to the FDA, recalled mesh products were the main cause of bowel perforation and obstruction complications.”
Thus, if you suffered injuries due to a mesh implant, you should contact an experienced hernia mesh attorney at McDonald Worley Law Firm to evaluate your case and represent you in a personal injury lawsuit.
Types of Legal Actions You Can Take against Hernia Mesh Manufacturers
The first basis for a personal injury lawsuit in case of hernia mesh injury is called product liability. According to this legal principle, in order to have a case you need to prove one of the following:
- the product (hernia mesh) had a defective design
- the product had a manufacturing defect
- the product had improper labeling, which failed to offer adequate warnings about dangers.
When your class action or individual lawsuit comes before court, the legal counsel has to demonstrate that:
- the hernia mesh was sold in the regular course of business (it was not specially manufactured for you)
- the hernia mesh was dangerous, but did not come with adequate warnings
- the hernia mesh was used in a regular and foreseeable manner by medical professionals
- the hernia mesh injured you, causing you economic damages.
The second option for seeking justice in case of hernia mesh injury is filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In this instance, the implant device itself is not the cause of your injuries, but the medical professionals’ negligence during the surgery.
In each instance, you should always receive legal advice before taking action, either for dangerous devices (such as Physiomesh flexible composite mesh, Covidien Parietex mesh or Atrium’s C-QUR mesh) or against healthcare professionals. An experienced attorney will help you understand your legal options and prepare your case for the hernia mesh trial.
What Damages Can You Include in Your Compensation Claim?
Product liability lawyers will generally include two types of damages in a list of settlement values:
- economic damages
- non-economic damages.
Economic damages include the costs with medical care (including further abdominal surgeries to remove the defective hernia mesh device implant and repair the hernia), lost incomes, loss of earning capacity and various out of pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages will compensate you for:
- additional pain and suffering caused by the defective implant
- loss of consortium caused by the mesh victim’s sexual dysfunction
- loss of quality of life
- loss of enjoyment of life
- emotional trauma, humiliation and mental anguish.
In surgical mesh lawsuits the jury may also award punitive damages if the plaintiff can demonstrate that the healthcare professional acted with gross negligence during the procedure of placing the mesh.
Reasons to Hire an Experienced Hernia Mesh Attorney
Although there is clear evidence that some types of hernia mesh implant devices are not safe, filing a claim for compensation and winning your case are not simple procedures. First of all, the attorney will decide what type of legal action to take:
- joining a class action lawsuit
- filing an individual lawsuit.
In some cases, the legal action will actually be a multidistrict litigation – a preferable form to a class action lawsuit. This means that several plaintiffs across different districts sue the same defendant together in federal court. However, in this instance, each plaintiff will have their own separate claim and jury award at the end of the trial.
Moreover, an experienced attorney will make sure that all the necessary legal procedures are completed in due time, within statute of limitations which is 2 years, either for a product liability lawsuit or for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Here are other reasons why hernia mesh plaintiffs should hire an experienced legal counsel:
Collecting Evidence to Build Your Case
In every personal injury action, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff. This means that you have to prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached their duty, provoked your injury which caused economic damages.
While you suffer from severe pain and have to contemplate further medical procedures and surgeries, leading to new medical bills, you do not even know where to start looking for evidence. An experienced attorney will:
- check if your hernia mesh implant is subject to a FDA recall
- investigate if there are similar legal actions referring to the same product in other districts
- collect medical records to prove a medical malpractice claim
- contact expert witnesses to testify in court.
Preparing You for Trial
In many cases, you will have to take the witness stand and testify in your case. Once your attorney has finished their questions, the defendant’s attorney will also have the right to ask questions. Attorneys representing the other party are relentless and merciless: they will try to trick you into contradicting yourself and appearing as an unreliable person.
Your hernia mesh attorney will prepare you for this moment, telling you what you can expect and how to avoid making self-incriminating statements without actually refusing to answer the question.
Maximizing Your Hernia Mesh Settlement
Sometimes, the other party will offer you a settlement. And you may be tempted to accept it, because you do not want to go through a lawsuit and wait for months until you actually get paid. This is exactly what insurance companies representing medical professionals or hernia mesh manufacturers want: to determine you to accept a quick payout.
A seasoned personal injury attorney can quickly sense that you are not getting a fair deal and will advise you to refuse it. Moreover, the lawyer can calculate how much money you have already lost and stand to lose while trying to repair your hernia and the damage to your body caused by the other party’s negligence.
Your attorney works for you – their interest is to get you the maximum possible compensation, which covers all your damages.
Hire an Award Winning Hernia Mesh Attorney!
McDonald Worley has over 20 years of experience as a personal injury attorney. He is not afraid to go to court against some of the biggest insurance companies and other corporations, because he knows that truth and justice are by his side.
If you suffered harm, physical pain, and financial damages due to a defective hernia mesh or another person’s negligence, McDonald Worley Law Firm is ready to offer you a free case evaluation and help you win the fair compensation you deserve. Call us: 877-721-3423!