Mesh Settlements and Internet Gossip

Jane Akre
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October 24, 2016
holding hands

Op-Ed, by Jane Akre, Editor, Mesh Medical Device News Desk, October 17, 2016 ~ Mesh Settlements are coming in and if you are a mesh-injured woman most likely you’ve heard from your law firm - Please do not read anything on the internet. It is unreliable and gossip.

That is what most law firms tell women injured by transvaginal mesh. Lawyers know women talk and social media is how they do it. Women like to talk to each other, especially when they’ve been made to feel they are the “only one.”

It brings comfort when few things do.

It’s been years since litigation began in transvaginal mesh cases and after much wrangling and legal positioning, settlements are now coming in from the mesh manufacturers.

I’m reminded that Hulk Hogan recently won a privacy case for $140 million in his lawsuit against Gawker Media, bankrupting the company. You would have been better off having your privacy invaded rather than your pelvis.

The mesh settlements that are quietly underway are not designed to bankrupt any company, quite the contrary.

They are based on your degree or "Tier" of injury.

J&J's Prolene Mesh

J&J's Prolene Mesh

Women who did not have surgeries to remove a problematic mesh generally receive less. They may not have had insurance coverage or the cash on hand to afford a surgery. The fewer surgeries, the lower her Tier of Injury, generally speaking, further disadvantaging women who are not of means.

Doctor's reports are important in determining a settlement amount. But what if the doctor writes a woman is a "hypochondriac?" What if that doctor is in deep denial that he may have caused her injury? Is that the report that goes to the Special Master to determine your settlement amount.

Some doctors at a recent urogynecologic society meeting, opined that women went out to submit their most private parts to additional surgeries, with anesthesia and a hospital stay, just to up their settlement dollars.

With 96,000 cases filed in one federal court in Charleston, WV, (multidistrict litigation) would take decades to try all of these cases, so Judge Joseph Goodwin early on called for both sides to settle. That’s where we are now.

The following is from a mesh injured woman who we’ll call Anna.

Anna says law firms claim they are out hundreds of thousands of dollars a case and really want to be paid now.

Pain by Jade R

Pain by Jade R

“REALLY?! So basically what you’re telling me is; “We milked it as long as we could and we racked up our $30 BILLION and now you victims need to accept the crumbs offered to you because time is running out (unless you want to wait many more years) OH and even if you do go to trial, know that “these conditions” that you women are blaming on mesh are also conditions that women without mesh deal with so Hey, who’s to say......”

“How absolutely disrespectful and demeaning?!

“This is completely unacceptable behavior by both the Justice system and the Attorneys! Not only are we victims of our mesh implants, we are being victimized again by the Attorneys and the Justice System. And everyone else continues to profit from our tragedies. Something is truly wrong with our system.

“The Justice System is no longer about Justice, It’s about making money and making excuses.”

What You Can Do

Prolapse by CR Bard

Prolapse by CR Bard

So, if you have received a settlement offer, what can you do?

The following is not legal advice, which should come from a licensed legal professional, but opinion that is gathered by a journalist from more than five years of coverage of this issue including interviewing licensed professionals and mesh-injured women and their families.

Check out the terms of your agreement with your law firm. Do they have the right to settle on your behalf without your agreement? The terms of the agreement prevail.

  • Does your law firm have all of your medical records? Is there disparaging language about you in any of them?
  • Is your law firm taking 40% AND a 5% assessment fee? Lawyers must pay 5% into assessment which are common benefit hours set by the court in multidistrict litigation. (1 percent is the lawyers cost and 4% is his time) Will your law firm take 36% and contribute the 4% (to equal 40%) to the Common Benefit fund OR does the 4% also come out of your settlement? This could be called double dipping.
  • Do you have a life care plan or know what your future medical costs will be? Have you lost your job, your home, your husband? What has that cost you?
  • Might a plaintiff tally up these costs to come up with a more accurate compensation that comes more closely to Made Whole, which is a legal term related to insurance coverage. See the Doctrine here and here.
  • Are legal fees reasonable? Can you get the actual out of pocket costs the law firm spent on your behalf? Did it include first class airfare and hotels and the cost of a jet, or were the fees “reasonable," that is, what you would spend on such things.

Lawyers do work hard, however, and that should be taken into consideration. Traveling 8 hours to get to a deposition might warrant a stay in a nicer hotel.

If you agreed to the terms of your settlement, it is the contract that prevails which includes a confidentiality clause as to the amount you received. Also, note* your manufacturer will admit no liability.

Just some random thoughts and internet gossip. Please seek reliable information from a licensed attorney before you consider agreeing to any settlement. ##

*Note to Readers * Please do not reveal any settlement amounts or your last name. But do share you experiences in bring an end to this massive litigation. Thank you and I'm sorry!

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