The Legal Recourse for Women Injured Using Transvaginal Mesh: Where Are We Now?

The very first use of a transvaginal mesh (in the form of a sling or tape) was back in 1998. This implantable device was a routine treatment option for women with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

These two conditions are common complications that women face after childbirth. The net-like mesh implanted via the vagina was said to provide much-needed support for the weakened pelvic tissues.

However, in the early 2000s, adverse effect reports started surfacing associated with the product. The situation got to the point where product liability litigation began across Federal courts. This article will discuss this legal recourse to understand the outcome and case progression.

Allegations of This Product Liability Litigation

At their discovery, mesh implants for POP and SUI were touted as the gold standard. Manufacturers claimed that the patient’s urethra or bladder (as the case may be) would get the support they need to heal.

Sadly, the vaginal mesh lawsuit exposed the medical device for what it is – highly risky surrounded by deceptive marketing claims. Women developed painful complications as a result of their use. Some of these complications included –

  • Discomfort and Pain – many women have experienced sharp, stinging pain around their groin, vaginal area, and lower back. Others have reported extreme pain and discomfort during sexual intercourse due to the mesh implant.

  • Mesh Erosion – there are cases where the mesh eroded from its implanted position and shifted to other parts of the body. Depending on whether the parts clashed against another organ or entered the vaginal canal, the victim experienced pain and discomfort.

  • Vaginal Scarring – is associated with revision surgeries or mesh removal. Vaginal scarring in such cases has led to sexual difficulties and pain. In some cases, women complained of being unable to use a tampon.

  • Infection – extreme cases involve vaginal infections. The danger with such infections is that they can give rise to complications like sepsis.

Case Consolidation and Settlements

In the years following the litigation commencement, thousands of lawsuits piled up across US Federal courts. In 2012, the main transvaginal mesh class-action multi-district litigation (MDL) was formed. However, it was not the first since an MDL was formed previously in 2008.

There were at least 20,000 cases in the main MDL. In total, seven original MDLs were formed for this litigation, with settlement amounts reaching a whopping $8 billion. To date, women have won at least 20 verdicts across state and Federal courts.

By 2017, multiple vaginal mesh manufacturing companies had settled thousands of lawsuits for millions of dollars. The prime defendants in this litigation include Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, Bard, and American Medical.

The coordinated seven MDLs over the last decade included 100,000 lawsuits. The fact that many plaintiffs even won multi-million dollar verdicts proves that the medical device has design defects.

Manufacturers are responsible for marketing the product deceptively despite being aware of the risks involved. According to TorHoerman Law, they have been accused of acts of negligence, false product claims, and manufacturing breaches. 

Current Status of the Litigation

The MDLs were presided over by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. By July 2022, 95% of the cases were closed and settled in West Virginia’s Charleston courthouse. All MDLs were closed by November 2022, with the defendants paying around $525 million in settlements.

After that, individual cases were settled based on the severity of injuries, the victim’s age, etc. This means there is no ongoing multi-district litigation across Federal courts today. Does this mean no more lawsuits are being filed? No, state courts are still accepting and handling individual cases.

By the MDL being over, we mean that the plaintiff’s counsel now has a clear idea of the average settlement amount a plaintiff may expect. The statute of limitations for this litigation extends from one to four years from the date the issues were medically diagnosed. 

If a plaintiff files a lawsuit within the said period, their case will be handled separately in their respective state court. On average, separate cases may be eligible for settlement amounts, ranging between $40,000 and $450,000. 

Final Thoughts 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified transvaginal mesh implants as high-risk (instead of low-risk) medical devices. Since 2019, the use of this medical device for pelvic organ prolapse has been recalled.

The FDA clarified that the reason behind this was the finding that the treatment benefits did not outweigh the risks involved. Despite the recall, over two million women have had the device surgically implanted.

Given that figure, it is likely that the transvaginal mesh litigation will not cease to exist anytime soon. Attorneys are still accepting new filings and fighting on behalf of their clients to secure fair compensation. 


Divya is a writer, who loves to read and write. She is a Company Secretary by profession. She is passionate about art, reading, writing, music, and creativity. She loves to do research on ‘Parenting’ and discover new things now and then. Her passion about positive parenting pushed her to write on ‘Wonder Parenting’. Her loving daughter, Vachie, helped her to dig deep and reach new heights on Parenting. She believes that ‘Parenting is Patience’ and shares her own journey to express that parenting approach differs for every individual.
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