First Canadian Transvaginal Mesh Case Filed

Nov 9th, 2011 | By | Category: Legal News

Jane Dowdall

NOVEMBER 9, 2011 – The first of  many more expected lawsuits was filed this week in Canada in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice naming defendant Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of transvaginal synthetic surgical mesh. See the Complaint here.

Paul Miller of Will Davidson LLP, a personal injury firm in Toronto, Ontario, filed the case on behalf of Jane Dowdall and her family against Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Inc, a subsidiary of J&J, and Gynecare Worldwide. All three entities were responsible for the development, marketing, and sales of the device implanted in Dowdall, says the complaint.

“We’ve got to stop using women as guinea pigs” Miller told MDND.

Paul Miller Will Davidson LLP

Dowdall’s profile, reported on MDND here on October 31 tells the story.

Jane Dowdall

The 55-year-old resident of the city of Kitchener, Ontario says she was implanted with the Gynecare TVT-O made by a division of Johnson & Johnson on May 15, 2009 to treat a bladder prolapse condition.

Six months later she was informed by her doctor that the pain she was experiencing was symptomatic of her body rejecting the TVT implant. Today she is permanently disabled and lives on pain medication, according to the complaint.

Canadian Tort System

The Canadian tort system currently sets a cap on damages for pain and suffering at $337,000, with no cap on the loss of earnings and future care. The main difference between the Canadian and U.S. system is that in Canada a citizen’s health care costs are covered by their province, so any lawsuit will seek to recover the expenses paid by Ontario for the follow-up care and surgery to try and have the mesh device removed which was not successful.

And unlike the U.S., punitive damages are generally frowned upon in Canada where Miller says the mindset is “very conservative, we like to mind our own business and not rock the boat.”

The largest punitive award in Canada was $1 million, however the loser in any lawsuit must pay a portion of legal costs to the successful party.

Health Canada Warning

On February 4, 2010 Health Canada issued a warning  (PDF version of notice here) about complications associated with the transvaginal implantation of surgical mesh for both stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Synthetic surgical mesh made from the petroleum by-product, polypropylene, is used to reinforce tissues and muscles that no longer hold pelvic organs in place. The notice says there are a multitude of complications associated with transvaginal implantation of surgical mesh including “infection as well as perforations and other injuries to adjacent organs including the bowel, bladder and blood vessels.”

The Canadian cases will move ahead as an individual action in each province on the basis of product liability, defective manufacture, design and a failure to warn. “Pure negligence toward the patient,” says Miller not a mass tort or multi-district litigation as in the U.S.  Ontario is the only province where a spouse can recover for the loss of consortium.

As in the U.S. there is a statute of limitations so Miller advises against using a lawyer referral service one might seem randomly posted on a website.  He’s seen cases where women reveal personal information only to have the case shopped around and eventually dumped because they are Canadian.

Among the 20 plaintiffs who have come forward, Johnson & Johnson and American Medical Systems, another mesh device maker, are the named defendants. Miller expects to see C.R. Bard named as well in Canadian cases which generally amount to about one-tenth of the number of U.S. cases as Canada has one-tenth the population.

That could amount to somewhere around 10,000 Canadian cases he estimates.

“When you put a medical device on the market, the device is implanted for life. This is not a battery dying where you take it out. You’ve got a 30 or 40 year old women getting these implants and when it goes wrong, it goes very badly.” #

 

 

 

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9 Comments to “First Canadian Transvaginal Mesh Case Filed”

  1. Joan Lalonde says:

    I had a mesh put in for incontinence about 7 to 8 years ago and have had 3 operations to correct perferations into my bladder. I am once again experiencing bleeding in my urine and pain in my pelvic areas. I would appreciate it if I could get the phone number for a class action lawsuit. It doesn’t look like this is going to heal any time soon.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Joan- Have you filed your complications with the FDA? Instead of a class action the mesh cases are multidistrict litigation where cases are tried individually but they are consolidated for the purpose of gathering the evidence. If you put that in the search bar of this site ( mdl) you will see the law firms involved..

      • Joan Lalonde says:

        Thanks Jane, however I am in Ontario, Canada and it looks like the FDA is American. I am so upset about this and there is a very good chance my 35 yr marriage will be ending in a divorce. My husband just can’t get past my issues. I am so overwhelmed I’m not sure how to react or how to proceed with this.

        ps.: I just received your response.

  2. Louise says:

    Hi! This is Louise, again.I wrote to you before.I told you that the transvaginal sling I got never cured my urinary incontinence and that I developed Stool Incontinence right after.I also read that women had groin, leg, hip pain.So do I. Idid’nt know that it was related to the surgery.I have groin, leg & hip pain.My family DR. told me that I will have do get hip surgery but I have to wait because there is a long waiting list.For my pain I take pills and I bought a cane when I have excruciating pain.I also had 3 bladder infections in a row.August 13 / Sept. 9 / Sept.30 / 2003 . As for intercourse, my husband died & I never had anyone since.But I sure I won’t get anyone soon, because when I have pap tests it really hurts.That’s why I know that intercourse is out of the question. And for all the unecessary tests I did for my stool problem I had the intestine, colon, rectum tests and they were are good .So I know it’s because of this surgery and the stool incontinence came soon, after.Also, I have to pay taxis, because I don’t drive , for my appointments, pay the meds, the parkings.I am so depressed that I don’t know what to do. Should I get that crap out of my body or leave it? They say that they can’t take all of it out of our bodies and that if I remove it, there will be a lot of surgeries, after.My family DR. is trying to get all the paper work where I had the surgery done so I’m gonna need your address & phone number.My emails don’t work so I’ll give you my phone number…1-613-679-2800 my address is : Louise Groulx, 75 Larocque Street , Alfred , Ontario , KOB1AO, Box 464…..I would appreciate a phone call or an answer, soon .I want to Thank all the lawyers out there including you, to fight for our rights.Their incompetence ruined my life and the lives of all those poor women out there.They should pay for their Crimes.It’s not only for the money but it’s for the lives they ‘ve ruined, forever.Thank you so much.

  3. Louise says:

    Hi ! It’s Louise, again.I just heard from someone that people in Canada have not yet received compensation in the Vioxx lawsuits.Are you Serious? I’t’s been 10 yrs. I don’t believe it. So for the transvaginal sling lawsuits are we gonna wait 10 yrs. to get paid in Canada, after all, the products were made in the U.S. I’m already 62 yrs. old and if it’s true, I will probably be Dead by then.I still have pain & suffer from this.My kids are going through this as well. They also should get paid for all the pain they went through.What is wrong with our system? Lawyers should go to the Health Department of our “so-called” GOVERNMENT and push this lawsuit to get settled, NOW. When it’s election time, they want us women to vote for them but when it’s time for us women to get help, they’re too busy.C’mon, it does’nt make sense.I am speaking for all the women out there, not only for me.Americans are getting paid, already and we, CANADIANS , we are second…as always.

  4. John Wilkinson says:

    Hi. My wife had this done in 2009. The procedure seemed to be common and successful.
    What went wrong? I feel like I have suffered too. If only we could turn back the clock.

  5. Dean says:

    I feel the same way John the thing that really bothers me is why can’t these manufacturer’s like J&J ecsept the responsability and deal with it like grown ups,what they have done to put wives.

  6. pamela says:

    i have had this surgery 3 years now with all the problems several women and spouses are experiencing and my stupid dr ask me if i want to remove my 2 meshes. WHAT AN IDIOT. my dr will take me off work in march 2014. can not afford to keep paying people to do part of my job when severe pains hit or when i feel like i am having contractions. for several days i have ALL TYPES OF PAIN and i am sick of waiting for johnson and to settle with us.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Pamela- Are you saying you had this surgery three years ago? And you still have problems? Where are you in Canada… Many there come to the states but there are far too few surgeons in the world to deal with the mesh mess. ~ ja

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We hope you find this a helpful resource. National News Editor, Jane Akre, began MDND with the hope of providing the latest news, information and perspective from the regulatory, industry and patient point of view, something that goes under-reported in much of the coverage of medical devices. The public is just now becoming aware that many devices do not undergo the same scrutiny as prescription drugs and are instead grandfathered in under an FDA loophole that has gone largely unchanged since the 1970s. As a result, patients become the post-market clinical trial subjects, and many suffer devastating and permanent injuries.