Mesh News Desk, April 11, 2017 ~ Mesh Medical Device News Desk (Mesh News Desk) recently noted that nine mesh injured women were about to have their product liability cases naming C.R. Bard dropped from transvaginal mesh multidistrict litigation being held in federal court in Charleston, WV.
The judge who is overseeing more than 100,000 transvaginal mesh injury cases recently prepared to dismiss the women’s cases because their lawyers couldn’t find them and they failed to show up for a January settlement hearing as pro se litigants (without legal representation).
The women had some things in common. Seven of the nine had the same law firm, most were implanted with Pelvisoft, Pelvicol and Pelvilace, a version of transvaginal mesh made by C.R. Bard, the defendant in their case, but among the less common meshes used to treat incontinence.
None of the women list a husband.
Leaving potentially thousands of dollars on the settlement table made no sense to us at Mesh News Desk. So with the help of Colorado Investigative Resource Services, Mesh News Desk has found several of the women. It is impossible to know who is at fault and that is not the goal of reporting this story.
Rather, it is to shed light on how a device injury can further erode the stability of a life that already is burdened with life’s complications and to provide both sides with the information they need to get back into the litigation, if they so choose.
Some of that responsibility must fall on the patient/client. When you sign on with a law firm you must take your case seriously and not depend on the firm to do all of the heavy lifting. It is a team effort and the law firm should be appraised of any changes in your case or any change of address. They should always be able to reach you.
Some of the responsibility may fall on the legal referral services that sign up women after plastering an 800 number on late night television, then promptly passing the case to another firm. Some women did not realize their case had been referred, a failure of communication, that leaves the plaintiff clueless as to the status of their case.
In some cases, numbers are amassed and passed on in a warehouse situation. See a Mesh News Desk story here.
Always ask if your law firm is handling your case or passing it along. Are they a legal referral service? This is a good example of what can happen when numbers mean more than people/clients/patients.
The story of missing Melody Mullins has been posted. The others are being sought and their stories told with their permission. Here is an update.
Kristina Ann Riddle’s case (2:13-cv-32233) against C.R. Bard was initially filed in the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division. She received the PelviLace TO Transobturator BioUrethral Support System on December 9, 2009 in Community Hospital in Anderson, Indiana by Dr. Steven Kim.
Her case was transferred to the MDL, Southern District of WV and filed June 5, 2013 by Douglass Kreis, of Aylstock Kreis and Overholtz.
Court documents show the law firm attempted to keep Ms. Riddle up to date but used an out of date address to send the certified mail. Mesh News Desk found some documents in her case misfiled in another missing woman’s docket, (Lupita), which may account for some of the miscommunication.
Riddle says she’s been at the same address in Westfield, Indiana since the end of June 2016, but a family tragedy forced different priorities in her life.
Riddle’s 18-year-old daughter died suddenly in December 2015 and Kristina is now in the midst of a child custody battle with the state of Indiana over her 2-year-old grandson. The little boy was initially made a ward of the state and she had to go to child protective services to begin the adoption proceeding.
Riddle says she received a notice from what she believe to be the court about the January settlement hearing in Charleston, WV, but she is unable to take her grandson out of state, even for a meeting which would be a violation of her present arrangement.
After receiving notice of the January hearing, Riddle says she sent back her daughter’s death certificate and the reason she couldn’t make an appearance.
“There was plenty of time to make some type of arrangement to Skype or some other way,” she tells Mesh News Desk. “I wasn’t trying to waste anybody’s time I’m having a hard enough time just trying to keep going on.”
Riddle says she did a change of address from her previous home, and alerted the federal court in Charleston, WV about her address change, but had never spoken to anyone from the law firm that filed her case.
She says she last talked to a lawyer before her daughter died but thought initially she had a different firm. In fact, she signed a retainer agreement after seeing an ad online years ago. She believes it was with a different law firm. In securing transvaginal mesh cases, many women signed initially with a legal referral service that larger referred their case to a firm that would prepare it for trial or settlement in the MDL.
Riddle believes someone dropped the ball on her case. “I haven’t come this far to stop. It was either have my day in court or risk losing my grandson. It’s not like I disregarded them and didn’t let them know anything.”
Maureen Buckley, (Case No. 2:14-cv-01398) ”I figured nothing came of it,” Buckley tells Mesh News Desk. It had been a five or six years since she had heard from her law firm. She had moved and did not leave a forwarding address. Her phone changed to. The case simply went by the wayside as her life took a turn for the worse.
Buckley, 49, says she was in a bad relationship where she felt she was being controlled and her mail was intercepted. She suffers from a “Lot of UTI’s”, pelvic pain and irritation. She is disabled.
Buckley was implanted with a Pelvicol Acellular Collagen Matrix on March 27, 2007 by Dr. Russell E. Adkins MD of Titusville, PA. Her case was filed first in Western Pennsylvania then in Charleston, WV on January 3, 2014 by Daniels & Gentle of Houston, Texas.
Mesh News Desk has alerted her lawyer to her present address and contact number.
Mary Margaret Golding, had her case filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before it was moved to the MDL in West Virginia. She was implanted with PelviSoft Acellular Collagen Biomesh by Dr. David M. Raezer in May 2006.
Her case was filed June 19, 2013 by Doug Kreis of the Aylstock law firm in the MDL in Charleston, WV 2:14-cv-09621.
Dr. Raezer tried to get out her PelviSoft mesh but Golding says he “Got as much as he could get. I was in the hospital for 7 days, was on so much medication,” she says.
Known to her friends as “Cookie” the 62-year-old Golding says she last communicated with her law firm about September of last year. She remembers calling them in New York, even though the firm that filed her case is in Pensacola, Florida.
“No I never talked to anyone in Pensacola,” she says today. Golding says she believe the New York firm she signed with was Motley Rice, which does have a New York office. “I don’t feel like they represented me at all or went to bat for me,” she says of her legal representation.
Golding was a black belt in karate at 16 and tells Mesh News Desk she worked out all the time when she was healthy. Now she’s a single widow living on disability and her husband’s pension. She lost him in 2002 after 35 years together.
Her husband was an electrician with a side business of Carolina BBQ Company where Mary worked as well.
“I don’t have the energy now. I have fibromyalgia. If not for the stupid mesh!”
Mesh News Desk will continue to try and find the missing women whose cases may have been dropped from the MDL when they could not be located. ###