Pelvic floor disorders are a hot topic in the United States.
They affect millions of women nationwide and are often overlooked by the majority. In fact, research shows that about 40% of women have at least one pelvic floor disorder (PFD) in their lifetime. Furthermore, over 15% of the women have two PFDs, about 6% have three PFDs, and approximately 2% of them have four PFDs.
For these millions of women, vaginal mesh implants were advertised as the ultimate solution, with the promise of relief from PFDs such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Unfortunately, for many, these medical devices caused debilitating complications, such as mesh erosion, infection, bleeding, pain during sexual intercourse, and other harmful side effects.
This, in turn, ignited a wave of lawsuits against the mesh manufacturers, seeking compensation for the physical and emotional toll the women had to endure. However, as of January 2024, over 94 percent of the lawsuits have been settled, according to TorHoerman Law.
Yet, many women are still filing lawsuits and seeking justice. This blog aims to uncover the latest developments in settlement negotiations and what it means for affected women.
Background on Vaginal Mesh Lawsuits
Vaginal mesh implants initially emerged as a promising surgical solution for conditions like pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
These lightweight, mesh-like devices were touted for their minimally invasive implantation and potential for long-term relief. However, what began as a medical innovation soon turned into a nightmare for countless women. Thousands of reports of severe injuries, including chronic pain, mesh erosion, and organ perforation, started surfacing, casting a dark shadow over the once-celebrated procedure.
These adverse effects, allegedly stemming from inadequate testing, design flaws, and insufficient information provided to both patients and healthcare professionals, triggered a wave of lawsuits against mesh manufacturers.
Following massive outrage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally banned its manufacturing and distribution on April 16, 2019. This move was based on the decision that the manufacturers, Boston Scientific and Coloplast, failed to prove the safety and effectiveness of the devices.
But, the damage was already done. Over 100,000 lawsuits were filed against the manufacturers, and settlements in the millions were handed out. Drugwatch estimates that settlements worth about $8 billion were paid across 48 states.
Latest Developments and Settlements
In 2024, the vaginal mesh lawsuit landscape will experience significant shifts, following the current trajectory of settlements. The latest developments showcase a dynamic negotiation process involving key players in the legal arena.
The seven ongoing MDLs (against Bard, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, Ethicon, Coloplast Corp., Cook Medical, and Neomedic) played a key role in thousands of cases, as they streamlined litigation and provided consistency. US District Judge Joseph Goodwin, the judge in charge of these MDLs, conducted the final session of the MDLs in November 2022. It is believed that Judge Goodwin oversaw over 100,000 cases at one point.
The seven MDLs saw a sum of $550 million in settlement, providing relief for eligible women. This amount will be distributed among the plaintiffs, with each plaintiff receiving compensation appropriate to their injury. Beyond MDLs, individual lawsuits and jury verdicts continue to shape the legal landscape.
For example, Ethicon’s $9.9 million settlement with a Kentucky woman in February 2023 illustrates the continued pressure on manufacturers. High-profile jury verdicts awarding millions in damages set precedents for future cases and encourage other women to come forward.
Nevertheless, numerous “orphaned” or “individual” cases outside MDLs await individual trials or independent settlements, demanding ongoing attention and support. The consolidation of cases within MDLs, coupled with recent settlements and verdicts, suggests the possibility of further large-scale agreements in 2024 and beyond. The evolving legal landscape surrounding defective medical devices could also impact future rulings and case outcomes.
Remember: The fight for justice for vaginal mesh victims is ongoing. You can join the effort and advocate for yourself and other women by staying informed and engaged.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q1. Can you still file lawsuits, now that the MDL is closed?
Yes, you can. Despite the MDL being wrapped up, you can still file individual lawsuits with the help of a qualified personal injury. Make sure the lawyer has experience handling defective medical device cases.
Q2. What compensation can one victim expect for an individual vaginal mesh lawsuit?
Your personal lawsuit settlement will consider several factors, such as the extent of your injuries, the specific injuries suffered, your age, and your economic and non-economic losses. If you’re eligible, you can expect your settlement to be in the range of $150,000 to over $400,000.
Q3. Which companies are being sued in the lawsuit?
Companies like C.R. Bard, Inc., American Medical Systems, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., Ethicon, Inc. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Coloplast Corp, Cook Medical, Inc., and Neomedic are named in the lawsuit.
Q4. What injuries are covered in the lawsuit?
Vaginal mesh lawsuits cover a range of injuries, including chronic pain, mesh erosion and vaginal scarring, infections, organ perforation, recurring prolapse, leaky bladder, and fistulas. It also factors in emotional and psychological damages like depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
The vaginal mesh saga serves as a sobering reminder of the dire consequences that can arise when product safety takes a back seat to profits.
It also paints a picture of both progress and persistence. While no amount of money can undo the damage inflicted, the settlements provide acknowledgment and a path forward for the victims. The fight continues for those still awaiting justice. With greater scrutiny on mesh devices already catalyzing change, there is hope these hard-learned lessons can prevent future tragedies.
Remember, staying informed and empowered is key. Follow legal developments, seek guidance from experienced lawyers, and connect with support groups. This journey to justice may be long, but with each settlement, verdict, and shared story, the path toward healing gets brighter.
Together, women raise their voices, reclaiming their health and paving the way for a future where medical innovation prioritizes women’s well-being at its core.