Hernia repairs are among the most common elective surgical procedures in the United states. Over one million patients undergo hernia repair surgery each year — many with hernia mesh implants. But plaintiffs in the Physiomesh MDL (Multi-District Litigation) claim their routine hernia mesh repairs resulted in severe and life-threatening complications. Many recent lawsuit filings cite the May 2016 Physiomesh recall, saying defective implants caused them permanent pain and irreversible injuries.
Plaintiffs Surge As Judge Selects Bellwether Trial Date for Physiomesh MDL
Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary company, recalled Physiomesh shortly after two large independent studies found unusually high recurrence rates. In fact, according to European hernia registries, one in five Physiomesh patients suffered hernia recurrence within six months of implantation. And in recent months, 30 new plaintiffs joined Physiomesh MDL 2782 seeking justice and compensation for their hernia mesh injuries. Northern District of Georgia’s Judge Richard Story recently ordered selection for 24 bellwether trial cases in the Ethicon Physiomesh MDL. At February 2018’s start, we saw 470 federal litigation cases total consolidated under the Physiomesh MDL. However, that number’s rapidly growing as civil courts approve transfers for additional claims seeking centralization under the same Physiomesh MDL.
On January 19, 2018, Judge Story issued a new discovery order and set bellwether trials to begin in September 2019. Each side must choose 12 cases to submit for a bellwether trial selection pool no later than May 15, 2018. Then on December 1, 2018, each side must select another five claims to add into the current bellwether trial pool. However, anyone with defective hernia mesh injuries may still join the Physiomesh MDL until the two sides agree to settle. If Ethicon’s lawyers and plaintiffs cannot reach a settlement agreement after bellwether trials conclude, individual claims still may win compensation. Judge Story will simply transfer those cases back to the districts where plaintiffs originally filed them for another trial date.
Physiomesh MDL Allegations Go Far Beyond Hernia Recurrence
Most hernia mesh patients know that any surgery carries some risks, but few realize they may need several more repairs. Minor infections, bleeding, and pain are normal after hernia repair surgery. But defective hernia mesh causes severe complications — and the only way to fix or remove it is with more surgery. But even with revision surgery, many doctors cannot remove all Physiomesh implant materials completely from affected patients. That’s because the mesh device can harden, causing surrounding tissue to swell, bulge and puncture or obstruct nearby internal organs.
Frequently reported injuries cited in Physiomesh MDL lawsuit filings include:
- Hernia recurrence requiring emergency revision surgery. (Revision surgery is both expensive and risky for most patients. According to The British Hernia Center, “the chances of success actually diminish with each successive attempt at repair.”)
- Adhesions (internal tissues and organs sticking together)
- Bacterial infections
- Severe pain and swelling at the surgical incision site
- Mesh device migration, fracture and perforation complications
- Intestinal fistulas
- Bowel obstruction
- Abdominal wall abscesses
- Irreversible chronic pain
- Organ and tissue strangulation
- Repeat hernia recurrences
To some degree, all plaintiffs currently awaiting trial in the Physiomesh MDL suffered extreme complications. Many claims filed against the device’s manufacturer, Ethicon, allege the mesh’s polypropylene coating prevents it from incorporating into the body. Ethicon promoted Physiomesh as a strong, flexible and natural-feeling implant serving as functional tissue after incorporation into the patient’s body.
Newest Lawsuit Filings Accuse Ethicon of Gross Negligence
Pennsylvania resident Christa Jones filed her complaint against Ethicon’s Physiomesh on December 22, 2017, which included the following allegations:
- Gross negligence
- Defective product design
- Failure to warn
- Violation of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law
On January 19, 2018, native Californian Sharon Smith filed a lawsuit against Ethicon for requiring revision surgery with Physiomesh. After Smith’s Physiomesh hernia repair in 2012, she allegedly suffered constant, severe pain until the device’s removal in October 2017. Smith’s complaint, now transferred under the Physiomesh MDL, describes her bowel complications and other injuries as “catastrophic.” In addition, Smith accuses Ethicon of failure to warn, breach of warranty and negligence for manufacturing and marketing faulty Physiomesh implants.
Federal Court Issues Physiomesh MDL Order Regarding Doctor Testimony
On December 12, 2017, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, addressed a plaintiffs’ motion through a new order. This order prevents Ethicon from communicating with plaintiffs’ treating physicians to ask about providing expert testimonies in their defense. This does not mean Ethicon’s lawyers are barred from contacting treating physicians for the plaintiffs’ side entirely, however.
Judge Story’s federal order allows the defense to communicate with them — but only with certain restrictions, including:
- Defendants and their attorneys cannot solicit expert witness testimony from doctors that formerly or now treat any Physiomesh plaintiff.
- Ethicon and their attorneys cannot communicate with the physician-expert about any patient listed as a plaintiff under the MDL.
- Lawyers for Ethicon cannot use a Plaintiff Fact Sheet or other discovery the prosecution provides to locate an expert witness.
- Defendants are restricted to 25 ex parte contacts (subject to reconsideration) total under this motion.
The latest federal order may benefit plaintiffs, since their physicians cannot testify against them during upcoming bellwether trials. Instead, the defense must seek their own expert witnesses among doctors that haven’t treated any plaintiffs currently participating in the Physiomesh MDL.
How Individuals With Hernia Mesh Injuries Can Get Justice and Compensation
With new cases joining the Physiomesh MDL each month, now is the right time to seek justice and financial compensation. If you or a loved one experienced complications from defective hernia mesh, you may qualify for a cash settlement. To check your eligibility for compensation online in just minutes, complete your free hernia claim evaluation today.
Once you’ve submitted your information, an experienced lawyer in your area will call to discuss your case and compensation options. Since Ethicon voluntarily issued a global recall for all Physiomesh products in May 2016, your time to file is limited. Every state has a different statute of limitations, so waiting to file your claim may disqualify you from compensation. Want to know more about what led Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary company to voluntarily withdraw Physiomesh? Read the related article linked below.