The most recent plaintiffs to join a multidistrict litigation (MDL) against the manufacturer of a transvaginal mesh device are an Arkansas married couple. Their cases against Boston Scientific center on the claim that the surgical mesh was made of materials that are incompatible with human tissue, and Boston Scientific knew this.
Debra and Ronnie Wooten cite scientific evidence that shows implanting transvaginal mesh made of monofilament polypropylene triggers a response in the immune system to reject the device. Because the body is programmed to defend itself against foreign substances and objects, such as the mesh, the pelvic tissue becomes inflamed and can remain that way. The result is chronic pain, infection and other adverse reactions.
Serious Complications from Transvaginal Mesh
Debra Wooten was implanted with Boston Scientific’s Tape Obtryx System Curved in December 2009 to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI). SUI is a condition in which its sufferers leak urine when pressure is put on their bladders from everyday activities, such as sneezing, coughing or laughing. It primarily occurs in older women whose pelvic muscles have been weakened by pregnancy and childbirth.
Within a year, though, Wooten says she had serious complications, including mesh erosion, which can be a permanent injury. When the mesh becomes entangled in nearby pelvic tissues, it is extremely difficult for a surgeon to remove all the pieces of mesh during a corrective surgery. Wooten’s romantic life with her husband, Ronnie, also suffered because she could no longer have sexual intercourse without experiencing severe pain.
The Wootens’ lawsuits now are part of In re Boston Scientific Corp. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, (MDL 2326), which is being overseen by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. An MDL such as this one consolidates federal cases with similar claims for the pre-trial discovery phase of collecting evidence and testimony. Then, each case is transferred back to its original lawyer for an individual trial and potential monetary judgment.
Lawsuits Target Six Mesh Manufacturers
Hundreds of women have filed state and federal lawsuits against six manufacturers of transvaginal mesh — Boston Scientific, C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), Mentor and Coloplast — because the devices have left them with debilitating injuries. An order issued by Judge Goodwin this month should make it easier for more mesh victims to come forward. He is requiring plaintiffs in the Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems and Ethicon MDLs to use the Master and Short Form Complaints to simplify their filings.
A California couple recently won the first lawsuit involving transvaginal mesh to go to trial. A jury found the woman’s doctor and manufacturer C.R. Bard at fault and awarded the couple $5.5 million.