Chances are you have seen a recent ad on television asking if you’ve been damaged due to the implantation of a vaginal mesh device. Thousands of women have had these medical devices surgically implanted and have experienced severe pain and physical damage as a result. A vaginal mesh device is used to treat vaginal prolapse, a condition where weakened or damaged tissue sags into the vagina. The device has also been used to help women with serious bladder issues. The damages done by these faulty devices can lead to extreme pain and tissue damage. One woman cited in a New York Times article has undergone 18 surgeries to repair the damage from her vaginal mesh device.
By 2008, the FDA had received over 1000 reports from 9 surgical mesh manufacturers of problems resulting from the devices. At that time it issued a warning to the medical profession. In March 2013, it reissued those warnings, “Dear Healthcare Practitioner, This is to alert you to complications associated with transvaginal placement of surgical mesh to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) and Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). Although rare, these complications can have serious consequences. Following is information regarding the adverse events that have been reported to the FDA and recommendations to reduce the risks.” (FDA Mar. 2013)
And yet women have continued to be treated with these faulty, unsafe devices. The lawsuits are rolling in. Lawyers advertise on television about the vaginal mesh devices, and there are websites dedicated to these lawsuits (NOTE: this lawyer has neither advertised on TV nor on his website for these cases). We are seeing thousands of lawsuits across the country as women come forward with horrific stories of their experience with the vaginal mesh device—severe pain, tissue damage, neurological damage, inability to have sex and more.
In February 2013, a jury ruled against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, awarding a South Dakota woman $3.35 million dollars. The lawsuit “ asserted that the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh was not safe and that J.&J. and Ethicon were liable, among other things, for ‘their defective design, manufacture, warnings and instructions.’ “ This case was the first in over 1,800 cases pending in New Jersey alone against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson. Ben Anderson, a member of the trial team for the plaintiff, called the verdict “a strong statement to Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon that they cannot put profits before women’s safety.” (New York Times, 2/25/2013)
For the last 6 years medical device companies, including C.R. Bard, have reportedly failed to fully disclose safety issues, while continuing to manufacture and sell the devices. And, doctors have continued to surgically implant these vaginal mesh devices in women’s bodies.
The story is in the news again as lawsuits begin in West Virginia against transvaginal mesh manufacturer, CR Bard Inc.. The lawsuits are being grouped as part of a federal multi district litigation (MDL), with over 3,700 lawsuits underway in West Virginia. There are hundreds of lawsuits pending against CR Bard and Ethicon in the New Jersey courts as well. (Bloomberg News 7/10/2013)
At the heart of the Bard case are reports that the company knew the plastic being used for the vaginal-mesh devices was unsuitable for human implantation. Bard lawyers refuted this, saying the cases are simply “lawyer-driven” and that their devices work properly.
These are real cases involving real people – perhaps you know one of them. There are substantiated records of thousands of women who have suffered real pain and bodily damage from these devices. When businesses fail to look out for the health of American citizens, fail to heed warnings from FDA officials, and continue to knowingly produce dangerous, defective medical equipment, someone has to step up and demand justice. Who else would do this, except trial lawyers? Do we want to rely upon the federal government to do it? Hardly. Thank a good trial lawyer for providing some checks and balances in our society.