Mesh Medical Device News Desk, March 29, 2017 ~ Melody Mullins was one of nine mesh-injured women who had fallen through the cracks in their mesh-related litigation.
“This is Melody Mullins”
The voice was firm and no nonsense. Melody Mullins had been found.
Mullins, 37 of Columbus, Ohio is one of nine women who were litigants in transvaginal mesh litigation filed in federal court in West Virginia.
In each case, lawyers lost track of their client. Eventually after a series of returned certified letters and no response to phone calls, their cases were dropped.
That left the women as Pro Se litigants (without a lawyer) in their fight against medical device giant C.R. Bard.
Mesh News Desk wondered what could have happened with these women who were all implanted with Bard transvaginal meshes. Could they really have fallen through the cracks?
Here is the MND story on the missing women.
Another mesh litigant, Candice Rizzuto, reached out to help with her skills and her business Colorado Investigative Resource Services.
“She was a tough egg to crack. Mullins moved around so much and her numbers changed a lot. She’s engaged and changed her name so a lot of things come into play. It’s not easy.”
MORE ON MULLINS
Mullins case was filed in the federal court in West Virginia on June 5, 2013 by Doug Kreis of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz law firm of Pensacola, Florida.
Mullins blames her law firm.
“My lawyer was a joke,” she says. “I’d send back papers and they never received it. I walked away. I was tired of playing that game. What do you do if he says he didn’t receive the paperwork?”
Besides, she adds, her email has never changed.
Mullins admits she moved from her last address, the last address the law firm had. She never received the last certified letter announcing an upcoming mandatory settlement conference in January.
Previously she had received, signed and returned a retainer agreement and authorization to pull medical records.
Kreis tells MND, “Please note: Though I cannot speak as to any current or former clients’ specific circumstances, all litigants must follow court mandated procedures and deadlines. Though rare for our firm, there are instances where – irrespective of our efforts – patients do not comply, resulting in potential negative consequences including dismissal of their claims. We want all of our clients to be compensated appropriately.”
In her complaint, Mullins claims she was injured from the Bard Uretex TO3, Transobturator Urethral Support system implanted in October 2006 at Ohio State University Hospital.
Now Mullins is dangerously close to having her case dismissed. She and eight other women have been fined $1,000 for failing to appear at that settlement conference with defendant C.R. Bard.
In sanctioning the group, Judge Goodwin writes of, “The need to deter this sort of noncompliance.” He is referring to a failure to engage in good faith negotiations with the Defendants.
“While I am cognizant of the difficulties that are presented by a plaintiff not being represented by counsel, those difficulties do not excuse the plaintiff herself from her obligation to pursue her case actively,” Judge Goodwin writes in his response February 13, 2017.
Now Mullins is mad. She tells MND she knew nothing about the court date and says since she is disabled she can’t travel at all.
Why didn’t her lawyer show up on her behalf, she asks.
“What can I say, it makes me feel like I was a nobody. I didn’t know I had a court date. I feel like they dropped the ball.”
Like most litigants, she could use the settlement dollars.
In July 2013, Mullins had a major surgery after the pelvic mesh cut her ureter and perforated her kidney. She was hospitalized for one week.
Mullins says she is disabled, she can no longer work as a home health aide. She’s had a series of surgeries on a broken ankle. Her hernia mesh has been fixed three times now.
Migraine headaches plague her and she is on Social Security disability. Her rent is $895 a month but her check is $799 and she has to support a young daughter.
MND reached out to her law firm and will add an update if and when it is received.
Ms. Rizzuto is helping find the other missing women.
Kristina Ann Riddle of Indianapolis, has been located but does not return phone calls.
After leaving several messages for Riddle and her daughter, a woman claiming to be her daughter called and shouted, “Stop calling me.” ###