Are Medical Device Distributors Liable for Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits?

In addition to manufacturers, medical device distributors may be liable in a transvaginal mesh lawsuit in Chicago. Since the beginning of these lawsuits in 2012, manufacturers of these specific medical devices have needed to pay millions in compensation to victims who sustained injuries after using transvaginal mesh.

Knowing more about these lawsuits, the reasons for them, and the potentially liable parties behind them, you can better determine if you have a case against transvaginal makers or distributors.

How Does a Transvaginal Mesh Implant Work?

Many women receive transvaginal mesh implants to help support connective tissue that has sustained injuries or become weaker. They consist of a perforated surface that facilitates tissue growth into the mesh. 

Also known as ribbons, slings, hammocks, or tapes, transvaginal meshes help treat two primary conditions:

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) — This condition involves involuntary urination when performing certain activities that entail a lot of movement, including sneezing and jumping. 
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) — If a woman’s supporting pelvic organ tissue, muscles, or ligaments sustain injuries or otherwise weaken, these issues can cause certain organs like the uterus or rectum to fall out of place, resulting in prolapse. 

A transvaginal mesh helps reinforce supporting tissue to protect against SUI, POP, and other similar conditions. This device can also help recovery from pelvic injuries that damage the tissue.

When implanting the transvaginal mesh, it’s possible to do so via the vagina or abdomen, i.e., transvaginal or transabdominal. The process of implantation entails making a small incision at the implant site in the vagina or abdomen, followed by securing the mesh using tissue fixation or sutures. Over time, the tissue surrounding the implant grows into the perforated surface, allowing the body to effectively absorb it for added support. 

Reasons for Filing a Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed transvaginal meshes as safe to use, many experts over the years have debated whether they can cause certain injuries and are generally unsafe for treating SUI and POP. 

Some women reported injuries and complications after undergoing a transvaginal mesh implantation. 

These issues have included:

  • Pelvic swelling and pain
  • Irregular discharge and bleeding
  • General discomfort and discomfort during sex
  • Vaginal scarring
  • Pain in the abdomen, buttocks, and legs
  • Incontinence, infection, and other issues affecting the bladder and bowels

These and other potential complications have led many women to seek compensation through transvaginal mesh lawsuits. 

As a result of the more recent debates and lawsuits since the FDA’s approval of transvaginal mesh in 2002, the same agency has ordered two of the main manufacturers of these products to stop distributing and selling them as of 2019. Specifically, the FDA called to cease the production, distribution, and sale of transvaginal mesh for treating POP. 

Who Can Be Held Liable for Defective Medical Devices?

The specific parties you may hold liable in lawsuits involving defective medical devices could include manufacturers and distributors. Both of these parties must adhere to product liability laws to ensure that their products are safe to use based on their design, manufacture, and labeling.

Strict liability laws dictate that manufacturers and distributors of defective medical devices are liable when they cause injuries and illnesses to consumers. According to this law, these entities would be liable if they were aware of the dangers their products posed. This law applies to transvaginal meshes, along with many other types of medical devices, ranging from surgical instruments to prosthetics. 

If a product comes with risks that make it unsafe to use, companies must include proper labels and warnings disclosing these risks and must never refer to the product as “safe.” However, they must also ensure that the medical devices they produce have generally safe designs and manufacturing that help ensure the device functions as intended.

Who Can You Sue in a Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit in Chicago?

If you believe you have suffered complications because of a transvaginal mesh implant, there are numerous companies you may be able to sue that manufacture and distribute these devices.

There are currently seven multidistrict litigations (MDLs) involving a group of seven different companies responsible for transvaginal meshes. These companies include Boston Scientific Corp., Coloplast Corp., C.R. Bard, Inc., Cook Medical, Inc., Ethicon, Inc., American Medical Systems, Inc., and Neomedic. If your transvaginal mesh was manufactured under any of these brands, you may be able to take part in the lawsuits against these companies.

These lawsuits are specifically claiming that the companies involved are responsible for many forms of misconduct, including design and manufacturing defects, breaching warranties, misleading marketing, and negligence. 

Recoverable Compensation in Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be able to recover various damages, including economic and non-economic losses. Additionally, some cases involving defective medical devices may lead courts to award punitive damages.

Knowing the different types of damages may help you determine how much compensation you’re able to recover in a pelvic mesh lawsuit settlement.

Economic Damages

The first type of loss to consider is economic, also known as monetary or special. Economic damages refer to all the financial losses resulting from the use of defective medical devices. 

Some specific examples of economic damages in product liability cases include:

  • Medical expenses for treating injuries, including immediate and ongoing expenses
  • Lost income due to time taken off from work to recover 
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Any other costs pertaining to your injuries

Non-Economic Damages

In addition to economic damages, you may be able to recover various non-economic damages. Also referred to as non-monetary or general damages, these account for all the personal losses resulting from the use of defective medical devices. Injuries often affect individuals psychologically and in their relationships, which can warrant the awarding of non-economic damages.

Examples of these damages could include physical pain experienced due to injuries, psychological trauma and distress, loss of consortium due to the inability to maintain romantic or sexual relationships because of the injuries, embarrassment, and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Non-economic damages are often more difficult to prove than economic damages because of their intangible nature, which can make it harder to determine how much they’ll contribute to a lawsuit. However, you may prove these damages by documenting your experience in a “pain journal” and getting help from an attorney.

Punitive Damages

If a manufacturer or distributor of a defective product acted with gross negligence or malicious intent in your case, you may also be able to seek punitive damages with the help of an attorney. Only judges and juries will only award these damages if they believe that a manufacturer exhibited egregious negligence or maliciousness.

Unlike compensatory economic and non-economic damages, the sole purpose of these damages is to punish defendants and deter similar behavior.

Wrongful Death Damages

If a victim of injuries resulting from the implantation of a transvaginal mesh or another defective device dies because of her injuries, the victim’s loved ones may sue for wrongful death.

Wrongful death damages include the same damages listed above, many of which the victim may have experienced leading up to death. In addition, other losses may result from the victim’s death, including the costs of holding funeral and burial services and the personal losses resulting from the person’s death. 

When Do You Need a Lawyer for a Defective Medical Device?

Like other product liability cases, lawsuits involving defective medical devices involve large manufacturers that have some of the best attorneys and insurers representing them. If you want to seek total compensation from these liable parties, you will need to effectively negotiate a claim, which will be challenging on your own.

To succeed with a product liability case involving defective medical devices such as transvaginal meshes, you will need to prove that the device was defective and caused your injuries. This process can be challenging and make it difficult to both obtain and present evidence to prove the defect. However, an experienced transvaginal mesh lawyer in Chicago will be able to work with you to effectively prove the product defect.

Additionally, an attorney may help you calculate the total amount of compensation you’re able to recover in a lawsuit. He or she will take into account all damages you sustained because of your injuries and determine the full settlement amount you’re eligible to recover.

When representing you, your attorney may also be able to answer any questions you have from “what is a mass tort?” and “who can I sue in my case?” to “how much compensation can I recover?” You won’t be in the dark during your case if an attorney chooses to help you file a lawsuit.

Steps to Take After Sustaining Injuries from a Defective Medical Device

One question you may have if you believe you have a valid transvaginal mesh lawsuit is, “What is the first step when injured by a defective product?” If you or a loved one suffers injuries and various damages because of the implantation of a transvaginal mesh or the use of another type of defective medical device, there are some key steps to take to increase your chances of succeeding with a product liability case.

These steps entail the following:

Seeking Medical Treatment

The first step you should take is to seek treatment for any complications you experience. Consult with your doctor about any symptoms and issues you’re experiencing. This can help you determine if the medical device is responsible and provide you with a formal diagnosis of your condition. You may then begin receiving treatment to make a full recovery and begin generating medical records that may help support your lawsuit.

If you have any issues with any treatment that your doctor prescribes, consult with the physician before making any adjustments or stopping treatment. Otherwise, failing to follow your doctor’s orders could lead to inconsistent or inadequate medical records that could compromise your case.

Collecting Evidence to Build a Case

You will need to prove that a defective product caused your injuries when filing a lawsuit. There are many pieces of evidence you may be able to use in cases involving defective medical devices, such as:

  • The defective device
  • Medical records that prove the extent and nature of your injuries
  • Medical bills, receipts, and other relevant documentation
  • Proof of lost income, including documents such as pay stubs and tax returns
  • Evidence of applicable product recalls and other lawsuits
  • Videos and photographs of injuries and the defective device

Speak With a Lawyer

Another crucial step to take in cases involving defective medical devices is to consult an attorney with experience handling similar cases.

An attorney will be able to speak with you in a free consultation to discuss a potential case. In the process, the attorney will review the facts of your case and all pertinent evidence to determine whether you have a valid lawsuit. 

If the attorney chooses to represent you and handle your case, he or she may then gather evidence to support your case, organize and present it to liable parties’ insurers or attorneys, calculate the total amount of compensation you deserve, and negotiate for the right settlement amount. An attorney with trial experience may also be able to take your case to court if you’re unable to settle during initial negotiations.

Filing Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Against Liable Parties

If you believe that you have a valid lawsuit against Boston Scientific, Coloplast, or other manufacturers and distributors of transvaginal mesh, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. An attorney can help indicate whether you have a case and may be able to help you build a successful lawsuit against the liable parties responsible. 

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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