Transvaginal mesh victims may finally have something to celebrate. In what is known as one of the largest U.S. mass torts in history, victims of this dangerous and painful product are finally getting the justice they deserve. In January 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of a woman who filed a suit against transvaginal mesh manufacturer C.R. Bard, which brings hope for the more than 70,000 other victims waiting to go to trial.
Transvaginal mesh, often made from a plastic called polypropylene, is used by doctors to treat women who suffer from pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI), which are common after menopause, childbirth, and hysterectomies. POP occurs when a woman’s pelvic muscles weaken and the pelvic organs, including the uterus, bladder, and rectum, drop into the vagina. The transvaginal mesh is surgically inserted into the vagina to hold up the organs and prevent them from continuing to fall or sag.
Transvaginal mesh is helpful in SUI cases, as it can support the urethra when the pelvic muscles weaken, which can cause bladder leakage during moments of increased physical activity. Surgical treatment of SUI with mesh, also called vaginal tape or a bladder sling, is the most common type of surgery used to correct the condition. Although the mesh can be inserted through the abdomen, doctors often go through the vagina, as it is considered less invasive and the incisions are smaller.
The product is also often used in women who have hysterectomies, if they suffer from vaginal vault prolapse—when the vagina collapses in on itself after the removal of the uterus. The transvaginal mesh is surgically implanted at the top of the vagina and sewn into connective tissue to hold the vagina in place.
Although the mesh has the potential to help women who suffer from these debilitating conditions, not all mesh is safe and reliable. The design and manufacturer-recommended implantation technique of some of the transvaginal mesh products have led to severe complications, such as organ perforation, infection, erosion of the vaginal tissue, chronic pain, and ongoing loss of sexual feeling. Unfortunately, reports of these complications came after the mesh was already used in hundreds of thousands of women. Donna Cisson is one such patient.
Donna Cisson and her husband Don filed a claim against medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard—who is also under scrutiny for its IVC filters—because of the problems she experienced after she underwent surgery that used transvaginal mesh made by the company. The Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of Cisson, and awarded her with $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1,750,000 in punitive damages.
This ruling is monumental for other transvaginal mesh victims as it rejected a defense that could have denied others their just compensation. C.R. Bard argued in its appeal that because it complied with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Section 510(k) medical-device process, its product was safe. C.R. Bard argued it should be able to explain that to a jury, but the judge in the trial ruled against it, as just because a company follows the section, it doesn’t mean that the product is actually “safe.”
If the court ruled in favor of C.R. Bard’s appeal, many other dangerous drug victims would likely be left out in the cold, as other manufacturers would probably attempt to use the same defense. Fortunately for Cisson and the thousands of other transvaginal mesh victims, it seems that manufacturers who create dangerous devices may now be held accountable for their negligence.
If you are a transvaginal mesh victim, you may be eligible to receive financial compensation for the problems you’ve experienced as a result of the faulty medical device. Call our legal team to schedule your free consultation with a legal professional from Kennedy Law Firm, LLP. We have helped many medical malpractice victims get the justice they deserved, and may be able to do the same for you.