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Settlement Value of Hernia Mesh Cases

Surgical MeshOur firm is currently seeking new product liability cases from individuals who have been injured by serious side effects resulting from defective hernia mesh implants. Thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits are currently pending against different medical device manufacturers.

However, most estimates suggest that there are still thousands of potential hernia mesh plaintiffs that have not yet filed. Although none of the current round of hernia mesh device lawsuits have settled or gone to trial yet, prior verdicts and settlements from comparable cases suggest that hernia mesh claims will likely be worth $500,000 to $1,000,000 depending on individual circumstances.

If you are a potential plaintiff, you want to know the expected average settlement value of the hernia mesh cases. Below, we look at statistics and data and try to give you some answers as to what the average plaintiff might receive. This is a useful exercise. These cases are ultimately about money to compensate victims for the harms done. But just keep in mind when it comes to ultimate settlement value and the expected average individual payout, our lawyers are speculating based on the facts and prior cases.

Summary of Hernia Mesh Defects

A hernia is a very common medical condition that must be surgically repaired. Almost 1 million hernia repair surgeries are performed at hospitals in the U.S. every year, making hernia repairs the most common type of surgical procedure in modern medicine. Over the last 20-30 years, most hernia repairs have involved the use of a mesh or patch implant device.

When performing hernia repair surgery, doctors tuck the protruding organ (usually an intestine) back into place and then surgically repair the muscle wall that holds it in place. A mesh or patch is like a small little net or screen that the surgeon implants in or around the repaired muscle tissue. The surgical mesh has biological materials. This allows connective tissue to develop that acts like a structural support to strengthen and reinforce the repaired muscle wall at the site of the hernia. The muscle tissue regrows around the mesh or patch.

Because these devices are implants they need to be made out of inert materials that can exist inside the human body without triggering an immune system response. They also need to stay intact so as not to move after the surgery or protrude into adjacent tissue. Most of the earlier mesh products were non-permanent/absorbable. They were made out of animal byproducts that were designed to be gradually absorbed by the body and disappear after implantation. These absorbable devices had a good safety record, but they did not provide permanent abdominal wall support.

In the early 2000s, a new wave of permanent hernia mesh devices from various manufacturers began to hit the market. These devices were made out of a special type of plastic, surrounded by some type of inert coating material that was supposed to make them bio-compatible inside the body. Unfortunately, many of these new permanent mesh/patch implants had major design flaws which led to chronic pain and other disastrous consequences for many patients, including the need for another hernia mesh surgery.

Adverse event reports from health care professionals to U.S. Food and Drug Administration grew. Eventually, and arguably belatedly, the FDA issued safety warnings and demand product recalls.

The fundamental problem with this type of hernia mesh had to do with their bio-compatibility inside the human body. Instead of being inert once implanted in the body, the permanent mesh devices had design or manufacturing issues that caused these synthetic materials to be incompatible with the human immune system which leads to a ton of health problems.

Once implanted, the defective hernia mesh devices would trigger an immune system attack resulting in inflammation and other complications. Another related problem is that their outer coating degraded too quickly, causing the mesh to become abnormally attached to internal organs or tissue.

Injuries Causes by Hernia Mesh Defects

The defective hernia mesh devices can cause a number of different internal injuries and/or health complications depending on exactly what goes wrong inside the body. The most common injuries linked to defective hernia mesh products include:

  • Internal infections and pain
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Mesh detachment and migration
  • Puncture of adjacent tissue/organs
  • Adhesion to other organs or tissue from scar tissue formation

Defective hernia mesh devices cause serious complications

Almost all of the normal complications related to these defective devices require additional surgery to repair or correct.

In some cases, hernia repair surgery patients started experiencing some of these complications within just a few days after the mesh was surgically implanted. For others, however, there was a substantial delay between the hernia surgery and the onset of symptoms related to defects in the hernia mesh device.

The Defective Hernia Mesh Products

The hernia mesh recalls and lawsuits have primarily revolved around 3 hernia mesh product lines by different medical device manufacturers. The table below lists the 3 companies and the names of their defective hernia mesh products.

The product liability litigation against C.R. Bard regarding its Kugel Hernia Mesh devices is mostly over at this stage. However, the mass tort litigation involving the Physiomesh and C-Qur products is just getting started.

Infographic

With respect to the Physiomesh, plaintiffs' lawyers have filed lawsuits alleging the multi-layer coating prevented adequate incorporation of the mesh. The result was victims coming in for a common type of hernia and having serious post-surgery complication because the polypropylene mesh portion of the Physiomesh could not withstand normal abdominal forces.

How Much Will Hernia Mesh Cases be Worth?

In June 2017, the MDL Panel created MDL 2782 to coordinate all federal Physiomesh hernia mesh lawsuits alleging complications when implanted in patients, "including herniation through the mesh, recurrent hernia formation and/or rupture, and deformation of the mesh.”

Fast forward to March 2020. Things are not moving quickly in terms of the litigation. But thousands of cases have been filed and are currently pending in state and federal MDLs. People continue to suffer the consequences from the use of surgical mesh that was defective. Repair hernias, when they can be done, are painful and costly. Trials are expected this year although the coronavirus might slow things down a bit

None of these new lawsuits have gone to trial or been settled so we don't know exactly how much these defective product lawsuits will be worth. However, this is actually round 2 of the hernia mesh mass tort litigation. Round 1 involved multidistrict litigation of thousands of claims against C.R. Bard regarding defects with its Kugel hernia devices.

We can estimate the likely value of round 2 hernia mesh cases based on the outcome of round 1 as well as the settlement values in other surgical mesh lawsuits.

  • Hernia Mesh Litigation Round #1

    In round 1 of the hernia mesh litigation, C.R. Bard was defending thousands of individual lawsuits by plaintiffs alleging injuries resulting from defects in the company's Kugel Hernia Mesh device. The Kugel implant had a design defect that causes a plastic ring on the mesh to break off inside the patient. When the Kugel ring broke off it caused bowel obstruction or in more serious cases perforation of the bowel. Both results were very painful and required surgical repair.

    The Kugel federal court cases were consolidated into an MDL in Rhode Island. A bellwether case, Thorpe v C.R. Bard Inc, was selected for trial. The victim in Thorpe suffered some of the most severe injuries associated with the defective Kugel implant. When the ring on the mesh broke off inside him it punctured and obstructed his bowel and he had to undergo 5 surgeries to repair it. In August 2010, a federal jury in Rhode Island awarded Mr. Thorpe $1.5 million in damages.

    Based on the outcome in Thorpe, C.R. Bard eventually agreed to a global settlement of all the pending Kugel cases in the class action lawsuit. C.R. Bard agreed to pay 184 million to settle over 2,000 pending Kugel lawsuits. Although this equated to only $70,000 per case, it does not mean that each mesh victim got $70,000. The 2,600 Kugel cases were divided into different tiers based mainly on how severe the injuries were and how strong their case was. Tier 1 plaintiffs with the most severe level of injuries probably got over $1 million. Plaintiffs in tier 2 with less severe injuries likely got $500,000-$900,000. Tier 3 plaintiffs probably received less than $100,000. Finally, claimants in the lowest tiers probably received some nominal amount or nothing at all.

  • Vaginal Mesh Settlements

    The current round of hernia mesh lawsuits share some similarities to the mass tort litigation involving defective transvaginal mesh devices. The vaginal mesh litigation involves many different devices and manufacturers and many cases are still pending. However, in 2014 device manufacturer Endo International agreed to pay out nearly $900 million in a global settlement agreement for 20,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits. This equates to roughly $45,000 per individual vaginal mesh case. Again, this does not mean that each vaginal mesh plaintiff received $45k for their claim. The vaginal mesh claims were divided into separate tiers based on the severity of injury and strength of the case.

How Much Will Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Be Worth?

Based on the results prior litigation outcomes discussed above, we believe that the average settlement value of the top tier hernia mesh claims will be around $500,000 to $1,000,000. Claims in the lower settlement tiers (those involving less serious injuries) will have a much lower value. The injuries suffered in round 2 are very comparable to the injuries alleged by round 1 victims. However, the injuries in round 2 are arguably more serious and more permanent which should push the settlement value higher than round 1.

Moreover, the defendants in round 2 (Atrium & Ethicon) are larger corporations with deeper pockets. Atrium Medical is only somewhat bigger than C.R. Bard. However, the other round 2 defendant, Ethicon, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Inc. which is one of the largest drug/medical companies in the entire world.

Do I Qualify for a Hernia Mesh Lawsuit?

Our firm is accepting new hernia mesh cases from anyone who meets the following basic criteria:

  • You had a hernia repair surgery sometime in the last 15 years AND a hernia mesh device was implanted as part of the procedure.
  • At some point after your hernia surgery you experienced complications or injuries related to defects in the hernia mesh implant device.

If you, or a family member, meet these criteria CONTACT US.

How Long Will It Take to Get a Hernia Mesh Settlement?

Based on prior mass tort product liability cases, we anticipate that it will be 1 to 2 years before a global settlement is reached in the current hernia mesh litigation. This means that hernia mesh plaintiffs should not expect to receive any settlement compensation the end of 2021 at the earliest. Also, the COVID-19 shutdowns may end up prolonging this timetable.

How Do I Know If My Hernia Mesh Has Failed?

When a hernia mesh implant fails it can trigger a number of acute physical symptoms including: abdominal bloating or discomfort; constipation or bowel blockage; fever, nausea and vomiting; hernia recurrence; pain and swelling. In most cases these physical symptoms will be severe enough that the patient will seek medical attention, at which point the failure of the hernia mesh implant is usually identified.

Contact Miller & Zois About the Value of Hernia Mesh Claims

If you have a potential hernia mesh implant lawsuit and would like to discuss the potential value of your claim, contact a hernia mesh attorney at Miller & Zois for a free consultation. Call us at 800-553-8082 or submit an online contact form.

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