You have seen a lot of commercials and have probably been searching the internet for some straightforward explanations about hernia mesh lawsuits.
Very simply, a hernia is when a piece of internal tissue pushes through an opening in the flesh meant to contain that tissue. As you can imagine, this can be very painful. Hernias have many different causes, such as weakness in certain parts of the body (like muscle weakness), overexertion (like lifting heavy things), or lifestyle effects (like obesity). The most common types of hernias occur at the: inner groin (inguinal), thigh/outer groin (femoral), belly button (umbilical), upper stomach/diaphragm (hiatal), or an incision site (ventral). So, hernias are very common in just about every type of person.
Unfortunately, a hernia will not fix itself and one of the primary treatments is surgery involving hernia mesh. These surgeries can be laparoscopic (poking surgical tools through small incisions) or open (traditional surgery involving a large incision). The hernia mesh is basically a small piece of netting, mostly in a sheet or a plug, which is used to provide additional support to a weakened or damaged area. The hernia mesh used can be synthetic (commonly a bunch of plastic-based threads that look like fine fishing string and are woven into a mesh) or actual tissue (from humans, pigs or cows).
The most publicized lawsuits involve synthetic hernia mesh. These lawsuits have been filed around the country and include claims that different types of hernia mesh were defective. Reports of these defects to the FDA caused the manufacturers to with draw some of the hernia mesh products from the market. The lawsuits claim that the hernia mesh manufacturers knew of the defects, but did not warn patients or their doctors.
The claims describe different types of hernia mesh being defective in many ways – failing, migrating, balling up, or just not incorporating well into the body. Injuries claimed in the lawsuits include: pain, infection, hernia recurrence, scar tissue (adhesion), blockage in the intestines (obstruction), bleeding, abnormal connection between organs, vessels, or intestines (fistula), fluid build-up at the surgical site (seroma), and a hole in neighboring tissues or organs (perforation). These injuries caused the claimants to have to have another surgery to fix the defective mesh (a revision), or they were told to get a revision but could not due to other medical conditions.1
The larger lawsuits that have been consolidated across the country encompass different manufacturers and types of hernia mesh, including:
Generally, to qualify for one of the consolidated hernia mesh lawsuits, you first have to have had, or told that you need, revision surgery because of one of these types of allegedly defective hernia meshes. The problem is that no one is really expected to know what type of hernia mesh they had implanted in their body. In order to make that determination, the first crucial step is that you will need to get a copy of the medical records from your implant surgery. You can contact your surgeon or the facility where your surgery was performed, or you can enlist the help of a law firm to help you do that. Once you know that you have one of the above types of hernia mesh and require(d) a revision, then you can make an informed choice of whether you qualify for and wish to be part of the ongoing hernia mesh litigations.
One last thing. If you think that you might have a possible hernia mesh claim, you want to pay attention to it sooner, rather than later. There are different deadlines and statutes of limitations that could bar you from filing any claims if you wait too long.
As always, please feel free to contact Stark & Stark to speak with one of or attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you may have and to help you better understand the hernia mesh settlement and lawsuit process.