People who developed complications from hernia mesh implants are filing lawsuits against the liable parties, which is often the product manufacturer. The plaintiffs in these lawsuits allege that the product design defects cause injuries such as infection, pain, adhesion, hernia recurrence, and bowel obstruction. In other cases, mesh hernia repair is alleged to migrate and shrink or contract, resulting in complications that require unnecessary surgery. The defendants in the hernia mesh litigation are the leading product manufacturers in the US, including C.R. Bard, Ethicon, Covidien, and Atrium.
If you suffered injuries relating to a hernia mesh implant, you might be liable for compensation. Contact Stephens and Stephens’s product liability attorneys, and we will review your case and help you file a claim.
Updates on the hernia mesh lawsuit
There are four major companies mentioned as defendants in the hernia mesh litigation, and they include:
- R. Bard, part of Becton Dickinson, has a 65% hernia mesh market share in the US
- Covidien has an 18% market share.
- Ethicon is a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary with a 12% market share of the product in the US.
- Atrium Medical Corps, the smallest of the four defendants, with a market share of 2%
In 2021, Ethicon and Atrium made confidential settlements. However, there are still active cases in the MDLs in 2023. Ethicon has also dismissed some cases in the MDL; as of May 2023, the MDL had about 1,455 cases. C.R. Bard had 18,988 cases, Covidien had 362, and Atrium had 3,393. New cases are still being filed in respective MDLs.
The first C.R. Bard bellwether trial in August 2021 ended in a defense verdict, while the second test trial of Antonio Milanesi against C.R. Bard resulted in a $255,000 verdict in April 2022. After months of rescheduling, the third hernia mesh bellwether trial of Stinson v. C.R. Bard is scheduled for October 2023. Settlement talks on the Stinson lawsuit are still underway, and an agreement could be arrived at before the set trial dates.
In August 2022, a state case in Rhode Island against a C.R. Bard subsidiary (Becton Dickinson) ended in a $4.8 million verdict.
With the third C.R. Bard test trial approaching, the court is currently trying to determine whether medical device manufacturers have a responsibility, under the Maine law, to inform patients through their doctors of any risks related to already implanted devices if such risks are discovered once the device is implanted.
January 2024 updates
In December 2023, Ethicon and J&J secretly settled 224 cases in the hernia mesh multidistrict litigation. In October 2023, an Ohio federal court awarded plaintiff Aaron Stinson of Maine a $500,000 verdict in the latest bellwether hernia mesh trial against Bard. Other trials include Trevino’s trial, awarded $4.8M in August 2022, and Milanesi’s, awarded $250,000 in April 2022.
As of January 2024, 24,837 hernia mesh lawsuits were pending in four separate multidistrict litigations. C.R. Bard/Davol, Inc. is leading with over 20,000 lawsuits filed against them.
Causes of action
Plaintiffs filing hernia mesh lawsuits against their manufacturers allege the products were defective in manufacturing and design, and the manufacturer failed to warn doctors and patients about the risks involved in having the implantations.
What is a hernia?
Hernia occurs when an inner body part bulges from an opening or point of weakness on the tissue or muscle that contains it. It appears like an odd bulge in the abdomen or groin, depending on the affected part. The bulge may come and go during different activities or positions, causing pain and discomfort. About 10% of Americans are likely to develop a form of hernia in their lifetime, and over a million abdominal hernia-related and 770,000 inguinal surgeries are performed annually.
Where does hernia occur?
Most cases of hernia occur within the abdomen when organs push through abdominal cavity walls and can only be remedied through surgery. Hernia can result as a birth defect due to an injury or from surgery. As you age, regular wear and tear of muscles may increase the risk of hernia.
Hernia commonly occurs in the lower part of the chest when it protrudes through the diaphragm. It can also occur in the lower abdomen and along the front line of the abdomen, as a birth defect or from previous surgery.
There are different types of hernia, and they include:
A ventral hernia- is a hernia occurring through the front abdominal wall, and it includes epigastric (hernia above the belly button), incisional, and umbilical hernia.
Inguinal hernia– is the most common type, making up about three out of every four hernia cases, and it is more common in men than women. This form of hernia occurs from the protrusion of part of the bowel into the inguinal canal. The inguinal is a passageway running through the inner thigh.
Femoral hernia– this form of hernia occurs in the femoral canal in the groin area when the bowel or fatty tissue pushes through a weak part of the wall muscles surrounding it.
Hiatal hernia– occurs when the stomach pushes through the diaphragm to the chest, and half of the cases occur in people aged 50 years and above.
A congenital hernia is a birth defect whereby the diaphragm fails to close properly as a fetus develops. This causes a serious condition whereby organs grow into the chest as the child grows making breathing difficult.
Incisional hernia– occurs from a previous abdominal surgery, which results in a point of weakness in the affected area, allowing tissues to protrude.
Umbilical hernia– it commonly occurs as a birth defect, and in such cases, the intestines protrude through an opening in the abdomen near the belly button. An umbilical hernia is a common birth defect.
Perineal hernia– is a rare form of hernia that occurs from a point of weakness in the pelvic floor when organs and tissues protrude into the abdominal cavity.
How is hernia mesh used to repair hernia problems?
Some hernia cases require immediate medical attention, especially where the protruding part or organ gets stuck and fails to return to its original location. Depending on the affected organs, it may result in complications such as cut-off of blood supply and tissue death, pain, and discomfort. Most hernia cases worsen over time and can only be repaired through surgery.
Over the past three decades, doctors have used implants through surgical procedures to support the affected body part. When repairing a hernia, the surgeon tucks in the protruding part and repairs the muscle wall supporting the affected organ.
These implants, commonly known as hernia mesh/patch, resemble a net placed across the weakened muscles and attached with sutures. The patches are made of biological materials that can remain in the body without causing any adverse effects. They provide the necessary support to the affected muscles with the pores in the implant, allowing the tissue to grow within and around the patch.
There are absorbable and permanent hernia implants. Absorbable hernia meshes disappear over time as the body takes them up, while permanent hernia mesh remains in the body, providing lasting support.
The materials used to make hernia patches are made of synthetic materials, often polyester (PET) or polypropylene (PP). Hernia implants prevent recurrence by 50%. However, there are certain hernia cases where a mesh or implant is not recommended, such as those showing signs of infection.
There are also animal-derived implants that are absorbable into the body. They are mostly manufactured from the tissues (skin and intestines) of cows or pigs. However, these implants do not provide permanent support, and they can lead to a recurrence.
Hernia repairs can result in complications. Where a hernia mesh is used, complications can occur from some recalled hernia mesh products. The recalled implants were found to have defects that led to pain, infection, hernia recurrence, adhesion, obstruction, and tissue perforations, among other complications. Hernia implant complications can also occur from the surgery due to malpractice or the patient’s underlying conditions.
Hernia implants are supposed to stay in place after surgery without triggering body reactions or infections. However, defective devices can move from the original site, affecting the surrounding organs and requiring immediate surgery to rectify the problem.
Problems associated with polyester monofilament and multifilament mesh
There are monofilament and multifilament hernia implants and those that combine both materials. Multifilament polyester meshes are commonly associated with infections that require implant removal. Studies have shown that these implants are also likely to trigger a rejection response from the body, leading to chronic inflammation.
Other studies suggest that abdominal exposure to polyester or polypropylene may lead to bowel erosion and fistulation.
Some studies associate monofilament polyester meshes with a high recurrence rate of 22%, with 87% of these cases being central mesh failure. The same studies associate lightweight monofilament polyester mesh with high mechanical failure rates in cases of open incisional hernia.
Studies have also shown that polyester material used in hernia meshes is twice as likely to shrink and has a higher risk of infections than polypropylene. According to these studies, polyester triggered more foreign body reactions.
Although polypropylene is generally safe for humans, however, some patients with hernia implants may be hypersensitive, thus exhibiting rejection reactions to polypropylene mesh that result in pain and tenderness around the implant.
A meta-analysis and systematic review of polypropylene and polyester analyzing the clinical outcomes of ventral hernia repair involving both meshes concluded that the material used does not affect the outcome; rather they both require appropriate surgical techniques.
Complications resulting from Hernia Mesh implants
- Infections – after hernia implants, bacteria may breed on the device, leading to pain, inflammation, and fever. Studies have shown that the type of mesh used may contribute to the infection, among other factors such as the patient’s health condition.
- Pain- people with hernia complications are likely to experience pain, which can occur within days of the implant or later. Pain is often experienced around the affected area, presenting as a burning sensation or tingling. It is often due to inflammation, scarring, nerve damage, and shrinkage.
- Adhesion- adhesion refers to the formation of scar tissue, and it occurs when tissues that should be moving freely stick together due to the surgery and inflammation. Bowel adhesion to the implant can obstruct the intestines.
- Bowel obstruction- it is an intestinal blockage that may result from adhesion.
- Internal bleeding- in some cases, hernia mesh implants can erode surrounding tissues, resulting in internal bleeding that can be fatal if not treated immediately.
- Fistula- a fistula is an abnormal connection between two body parts and can result from various causes. In hernia cases, it may occur when a hernia implant moves and erodes through tissues, perforating other organs and tissues.
- Seroma- referring to fluid buildup, which usually occurs at the hernia site a few days after the surgery. It presents as a palpable mass that most patients interpret as a recurrence.
- Perforations- holes and tears often occurring in the intestinal walls following incisional hernia repair surgery. Perforations may occur if the implant detaches from the original site. Intestinal perforation is treated as a medical emergency.
- Shrinking- when a hernia mesh shrinks, it pulls the attached muscles, resulting in pain and inflammation. Some studies show that polypropylene meshes shrink more than polyester.
- Hernia mesh migration- most hernia mesh complications are associated with partial or complete movement of the implant from the original point of attachment.
- Nerve damage- hernia mesh complications can cause nerve damage, leading to severe pain. This occurs when nerves grow into the mesh and get entrapped. Nerves may also be affected during surgery by surgical sutures.
- When these complications occur, the patient requires corrective surgery to remove the mesh, repair the hernia, and rectify the affected organs. The surgeon may have to remove the entire or part of the mesh and its tacks and replace it.
Who can file for a hernia lawsuit?
If you had complications following a hernia implant, you could be eligible for compensation. Your state’s statute of limitations could deter you from filing a claim. However, problems with hernia implants may take time to develop. For this reason, it is best to seek the help of an attorney. It is also important to note that product defects do not always cause hernia implant problems. Complications can also occur from improper surgical procedures, medical malpractice, or other underlying conditions. An attorney should guide you through the necessary assessment to establish if you may be eligible for compensation. Depending on who you are suing, the case can be filed directly to an existing MDL, offering benefits, including cutting on cost.
Contact us for a free hernia lawsuit evaluation! Our charges are contingency-based.