Settlement Value of Hernia Mesh Cases

Surgical MeshOur firm is currently seeking new product liability cases from individuals who have been injured by complications 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, we are just making an educated guess.  

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 hernia 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 hernia 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 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.

Since hernia mesh 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 hernia 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 hernia mesh devices had a good safety record, but they did not provide permanent muscle wall support.

In the early 2000s, a new wave of permanent hernia mesh devices from various manufacturers began to hit the market. These permanent mesh 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 hernia mesh/patch implants had major design flaws which led to disastrous consequences for many patients. Adverse event reports eventually prompted the FDA to issue safety warnings and demand product recalls.

The fundamental problem with most of the defective hernia mesh devices 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 them to be very incompatible with the human immune system. Once implanted the defective hernia mesh devices were triggering an immune system attack resulting in inflammation and other complications. Another related problem with the hernia mesh devices is that their outer coating degraded too quickly, causing the mesh to become abnormally attached to 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

Almost all of the normal complications related to defective hernia mesh 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 hernia 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.

How Much Will Hernia Mesh Cases be Worth?

We are still in the early phase of the hernia mesh litigation against Ethicon and Atrium. This means that new cases are still coming in and the hundreds of already filed cases are currently pending in state and federal MDLs. None of these new hernia mesh cases have gone to trial or been settled so we don't know exactly how much they will be worth. However, this is actually round 2 of the hernia mesh mass tort litigation. Round 1 involved thousands of claims against C.R. Bard regarding defects with its Kugel hernia mesh 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. Based on our

  • 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 plaintiff 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. 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 plaintiff got $70,000. The 2,600 Kugel cases were divided into different tiers based mainly on how severe the plaintiff's 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, plaintiffs 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 agree 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.

Hernia Mesh Claims may be Worth $500,000-$1,000,000

Based on the results prior litigation outcomes discussed above, we believe that the average settlement value of current hernia mesh claims will be around $500,000 to $1,000,000. The injuries suffered by round 2 hernia mesh plaintiffs are very comparable to the injuries alleged by round 1 hernia mesh plaintiffs. 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.

Contact Miller & Zois About the Value of Hernia Mesh Claims

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

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