Trudy Thomas: Suffering in Silence and Financially after Kugel Mesh Settlement

Aug 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Patient Profiles

Trudy Thomas (right) and her daughter Kandace

Trudy Thomas is 53-years-old and the song, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all,” might be her anthem.

Thomas lives in Cascade, Colorado near Colorado Springs and halfway through our profile interview, she had to flee her mountain cabin.

Flames invaded the canyons around her home where she lives alone with her dog, Blackjack. For several days she was on the road, sleeping in her car, at her daughter’s house and out of communication.

She had no idea whether the modest one bedroom wooden mountain cabin she calls home would be there when she returned as the entire Manitou Springs area was wiped out by fire that started a mile from her home in Waldo Canyon.

Thomas is now back at home which was spared except for the soot damage inside which was cleaned up with the donation of supplies from the Red Cross.

We returned to our earlier conversation about her hernia mesh injury and the settlement offer she has received. If a plaintiff ever was led to believe a settlement would make them whole, Trudy’s story might serve as a wake-up call.

Editors Note* Thomas was represented by two law firms but she produced a certified letter she sent to the attorneys dismissing them from the case. She no longer wants to be represented and has refused the low five-figure settlement.

Trudy’s Kugel Mesh Story

On December 6, 2006, Thomas had Kugel mesh, sold by C.R. Bard, implanted to treat a hernia.  The Colorado Springs native had been helping an elderly couple stay out of a nursing home while Thomas was recovering from a bout of cancer of her cervix, stomach and ovaries.

“I had no education after high school and was unable to get Medicare and Medicaid. They just dropped me. I had no idea why. They (the couple) were helping me get back on my feet,” she tells MDND. 

Upon moving the man out of a chair, she felt her hernia. She was fitted with the Kugel Mesh Hernia Repair Patch. But almost immediately Thomas could tell the Kugel mesh was not going to be a good fit.

“I couldn’t tolerate the pain. I kept going back in the hospital. It was January 1, it was a holiday.  I went into respiratory failure. The tissue surrounding the Kugel mesh had died due to gangrene.  I don’t remember much about that time period. I remember screaming in pain,” she says today.

Thomas was in intensive care with a perforated bowel and partial obstruction. Her gallbladder also turned gangrenous she says and had to be removed.

Five surgeries and six weeks in the hospital later, Thomas had the Kugel mesh removed when her surgeon said it was the cause of the infection. The mesh was not saved so she has no idea if the ring broke, the cause of many Kugel mesh complications and the basis for the larger Kugel settlements.

“The surgeon said your body didn’t take to it.”

By then a friend has brought to her attention the Kugel mesh claims being filed across the country. Thomas got on the internet. With a few inquires, she suddenly found “every attorney wanted to take my case.”

Even without Kugel mesh, Thomas says the Kugel mesh mess continues.

“Since then I’ve had eight bowel obstructions, all of them adhesions which are now strangling my bowel,” she said adding that she has lost over half of her intestines. Thomas says she can never be far from a toilet. Unable to work she has lived on Social Security disability and Medicare and Medicaid. Thomas says she receives about $650 a month in assistance and $150 a month in food stamps, barely enough to keep her in the uninsulated summer cabin or pay for the cost of a space heater in bedroom and gas heater in the living room during the colder months.  Not to mention food.

Shortly after the introduction of the Composix Kugel mesh patch in 2002 problems began to emerge. The ring, which was design to spread the large patch once inserted, was breaking, causing complications in users.  Initially Davol, the manufacturer and a subsidiary of C.R. Bard, Inc, blamed the doctors for the injuries, but by December 2005, the FDA ordered a recall of the Bard Composix Kugel Mesh Hernia Repair Patch. The recall was updated in March, 2006 and again in January 2007 after the FDA found several fatalities and more than 80 injuries resulted from the Kugel hernia patch.

The first lawsuits were filed in Rhode Island in December 2006.

By July 17, 2008, Thomas joined the Kugel mesh litigation filing her case in Superior Court in Rhode Island, the home state of C.R. Bard.  Her complaint requested a trial by Jury.

One mile from Thomas’ Home

Kugel Mesh Settlement

On July 6, 2011, C.R. Bard Inc. extended a settlement offer totaling about $184 million to settle 2,600 lawsuits with injuries that ranged from death to intestinal fistulas, sepsis, and bowel perforation, among other complications.

Although the conditions of the Kugel mesh settlement are confidential, online websites host chats among those plaintiffs on the receiving end of the settlement who largely express dissatisfaction.

Originally, many stated they would not sign onto the defective product settlement.

Thomas received a smaller settlement because it was believed her Kugel mesh ring did not break.

Before the settlement was announced, and fearing she would be homeless, Thomas took out a $5,000 lawsuit-related loan to pay some bills and keep the lights on. She says she was told a settlement was forthcoming so she felt she could handle the $400 a month in interest payment.

“I figures if I was getting a settlement in a few months it would be worth the risk. I needed the money really bad and I took a chance believing my attorney on this. I had to do it.”

In March 2010 she got the loan, which after initial fees was only $3,500 in cash. By June of 2012, the loan with interest had swelled to $15,000.

Take the Settlement

“I said right away I’m not taking it. I want to go to trial,” says Thomas today. “They kept leading me on. Now I want out of it because I’m getting cut down on my food stamps and disability until I have proof that I did not accept the money,” she says.

Thomas says her food stamps were reduced to $89 a month and Social Security is now down to $650 every month.

“I have to pay utilities, I’m about to get evicted. I’ll probably have to live in my car. I don’t know.”

In response she sent a notarized and certified letter to all attorneys and law firms involved (there are two) refusing the Kugel Mesh settlement.

Thomas says the law firm calls and writes her constantly to take the settlement.  She is also told she cannot file bankruptcy because the loan was an “investment” and cannot be dismissed as other debts are in bankruptcy.

“I’m getting bills by the millions from Medicare they want me to pay back. I’ve had 17 surgeries after Kugel mesh and it’s all Kugel-mesh related. “

Mother Nature Strikes Again

As if the fires were not enough, last month Thomas was once again run out of her home by Mother Nature. Fountain Creek in Cascade began creeping dangerously close to her home and her road was washed out making travel by car impossible. During our conversation she said she might have to put on a backpack and take Blackjack and head from higher ground.  Thomas got a 911 warning call to evacuate from the nearby Colorado Springs police department.

“I had no way to get out” Then the electricity went out, which affected the well. I didn’t have any water. I just buckled down and went to bed,” she says adding that her phone got wet and she was out of communication for two weeks.

“I went down to the creek yesterday, furniture is washing down, lumber, it’s bad back there.”

But fortunately her home was spared.

Trudy and her daughter

“I’m just mad. I’m on the toilet 24 hr a day. It’s so depressing for me. I hardly have any intestines left and I’m not eating or sleeping properly. I couldn’t possibly work, I wish I could. The lady at Social Security said if I claimed I was suicidal I could get more money. That’s not me I refused that.”

“I just want this to stop and to get my benefits back to where I was.  I’m a really energetic person and try to be happy person most of the time but this is taking my integrity, self esteem to where I’m getting low in life. I’ve got so much to offer in this world, I really do and it’s taking everything from me. I’ve been trying to find a church close by, just to be by God.  I got into this case by the belief it would not affect my disability. Even if I got $2 million, one surgery would wipe me out.”

Postscript- Thomas supplements her food by eating from her garden and relies on food pantries to supplement her food supply.  She is still in a waiting mode and still refusing the Kugel settlement.  Thomas says she wishes she had never heard of a settlement. Meanwhile she is feeling well enough and is looking at a part-time job at a nearby school.

“I still feel like I have so much to offer, I just want to get back on my feet. I’m due a good turn,” she says. #

 

 

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25 Comments to “Trudy Thomas: Suffering in Silence and Financially after Kugel Mesh Settlement”

  1. Trudy Thomas is a heroine. Let’s make sure she is not unsung! Tweet and share her story so that she is offered a fair settlement without a gag clause.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Trudy’s story is a wake up call for all of you who are considering one of those pre-settlement loans. First, you might not get what you are expecting, as she found out…. and second, know what you are signing. Lawyers- any other recommendations here? No one wants to see someone harmed when they sought legal help and guidance to better a wrong.

      • Hope says:

        Trudy, I am so sorry for what you have gone through, and I feel you need to do what you have to if you wish to survive. As I see it , you are suicidial if you do not tell the State that you are and get the financial support you need right now to survive. Obviously if you do not get more money to live right now you will not have food and shelter. In your condition that is the definition of suicidal.
        I do not mean to come off as unsympathetic as I truly am, but I will not let my pride get in the way of helping myself and trying to help others. You can not help yourself or anyone else if you are not given the proper resouces to do so.
        You said it yourself, “you are to sick to work”. Being stressed out about how you are going to survive day to day with out assistance is not an option.
        There is help out there for you, you just must be willing to do what ever it takes to keep on keeping on. If that means telling the state you are suicidal than so be it.
        Perhaps unerstanding that killing yourself slowly from malnutrition, sleep deprovation and living in an unhealthy enviroment is suicide will be enough to persuade you to ask the proper authorities for help.
        They have the money to help you, and it is there specifically for people that need the help.
        You have been victimized enough, you do not have to be a martor.
        I hope you do not take affense to my candidness, it’s just that I want to pass on a message of Hope (no pun intended), and teach others how to live in the solution rather than the problem. You must take advantage of the resources you have available to you today as they may not be here tomorrow.
        Respectfully and with Love,
        Hope

        • Trudy Thomas says:

          Dear Hope,.
          I respect your comment on your concerned input on my tragic story. Yet i have to tell you stating that i shouldcry suicide is a bit of an insult.
          I feel my surving without the “cry suicide” makes me feel stronger and with the little control of my life. Im not going to deny i dont have thoughts. But to surender to them by the way you commented i will loose every little bit of intregedy, and freedom and selfworth. Im proud ive made it this far. Im not asking for pity, hope, or am i saying my problems are worse then anyones.
          I understand and i do know there to resources out there. I have written letters to every goverment offical and have made 100s of phone calls to try to better my life. It would take me hours to explain and to proove to you how wrong you are in saying to me what you said.
          I just dont understand how you can judge me for someth you nothing about. You have no idea how hard i try no idea at all. Its pretty sad to know theres people out there like you who can say such judging and insulting words.

          • KIM says:

            O I DON’T THINK SHE MEANT YOU HARM OR JUDGED YOU SHE MUST NO SOMETHING – OR SOMEONE THAT GOT HELP THAT WAY IT’S NOT A HAND OUT – YOU WERE HARMED BY THIS DR. AND THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY, AND SHE WAS JUST SADDENED BY YOUR STRUGGLES AND WORRIED ABOUT SOMEONE MAYBE HAVEN TO LIVE IN A CAR NO ONE SHOULD HAVE TO DO THAT ‘ KIM

        • Trudy Thomas says:

          Dear Hope.
          In conclusion with your comment i have to feel you have never ever have had anyth close to what ive lived through. Or you would not have written a comment that i take very hurtful. In fact anyone who knows me would tell you theres not anyone who trys as hard as i do. You have not one clue Hope what anything is like living in my shoes. Not one clue.
          If i was to read more comments like yours that would take me over the edge.
          And just to show how sensitive your comment is to me, my sister my beautiful loving most caring sister in the world commited sucide afew years ago. And i found her. That same month i found my best friend and my brothers fience in one month all suicides.
          So you hit a pretty tender sore. I believe in God to the fullest. And my faith is only things that keeps strong. And thers people like Jane Akre who has come into my life and gives strength and afeeling of hope a selfworth. She has been my angel. .and my voice on this unbelievable lawsuit. She has shown me human compassion then anyone in my life.
          There should be more like her for she gives unconditional suport and never ever an insult that i should be doing better. She gives a feeling of selfworth that no one could come close. I will forever be grateful for her most kind and caring suport that she has giving me
          She has never said a word to insult me or demean me. Shes a rare human being. She keeps my spirit up my hope and my fight to keep obtaining back my benifits. She believes everyword ive told her and shows the kind and caring sugestions.
          So please Hope i ask you from words from heart. Please be careful on commenting the way you did me. Im sure in your eyes you were trying to help. But unless youve lived in my shoes one day you would see that your comment was one that i feel was insulting. Infact i hope i dont read momments like yours.

        • KIM says:

          i BELIEVE YOU ARE RIGHT SHE SHOULD TAKE WHAT SHE CAN GET – WE ALL BECOME MARTERS WHEN WE HAVE WORKED ARE WHOLE LIFE – BEING A SINGLE MOM OR EVEN MARRIED AND IT TOOK BOTH OF YOUR INCOMES TO LIVE THE LIFE YOU STARTED . SO I SAY TO YOU AS WELL TELL THEM YOUR EXHAUSTED- I’VE THOUGHT AT TIMES I WOULD RATHER DIE , I ASKED GOD TO TAKE ME IN MY SLEEP, I’M NO COMFORT TO MY DAUGHTER SHE DOESN’T EVEN TALK TO ME ANYMORE FOR I ‘M NOT THE MOM THAT SHE IS USED TO – I’VE BEEN VERY SHORT WITH HER AND SHE HAS LEFT ME OVER 14 MONTHS AGO DOESN’T WANT ME IN HER LIFE ANYMORE – I DON’T NO HOW TO FIX IT WITH HER, I CALL HER EVERY OTHER MONTH JUST TO LISTEN TO HER VOICE MESSAGE ON HER CELL PHONE NEVER A CALL BACK NOW I JUST SAY HELLO JILL IT’S MOMMY AND I JUST WANTED TO HERE YOUR VOICE – THERE IS NO PRESSURE AND I’LL WILL EXCEPT YOU WISHES, SO THEIRS A LOT THAT HAPPEN’S WHEN THESE DR. USE MESH – HOW CAN THESE DR. USE THIS STUFF, KIM

  2. mary jones says:

    love, hugs and many many prayers from Evansville, Indiana, Trudy.

  3. Trudy Thomas says:

    Thankyou for your kind and caring words. You all have no idea how much it helps to hear that people care. Pretty alone in my world and it brings tears of joy to see that there are people who care. I thankyou from heart and my lonely painful world.

    • jeanne says:

      To suffer physically and to wish you didn’t have a vagina can physically put you on the streets. I live way below the poverty level, need to eat ‘clean’ food so I can eliminate. I’m just thankful I figured out what was keeping me from healing. I’ve lost everything several times, now. I truly understand why God and I planned all these years of agony-to help others understand what M.D.’s, Drug companies (they support medical schools), and Oil Companies (petroleum in most pills) are doing to generations of beautiful human beings and the animals they test them on; past, present and future. Awareness is evolution. Love to you.

      • Trudy Thomas says:

        Reading what you wrote… I have to believe we are so much the same. But how sad it is to hear there are so many like us in this tragic devasitation this has left us in. I am almost speachless to know what to say back to you. My heart feels your pain and uncertainty of the future this has left us in. This has not only taken our quality of life our dreams and our self integrety, it has left me to only live for a purpose to leave me with that same thought.
        Theres not a day that goes by that I cant help to feel the pain the fear the demeaning and struggle this has left me in.
        I fight my feelings everyday for God to to give everything I was. And everything I wanted to be. Its left me feeling so alone and terrified.
        Yet reading your words made me feel in way comfort that it gave me hope in such a odd way. It gave me a sense of a connection with

  4. Trudy Thomas says:

    Just

  5. Trudy Thomas says:

    Just when you think things are calming down..cell phone breaks (unable to buy another one. This samsung tablet has to be returned. So there goes my any form of communicating. Then I recieved a letter that im loosing medicare..there goes my vb disability.. And I just had my 30th surgery. Im terrified of my future. Im needing prayers. Im needing signs of hope.

    • Betty says:

      I’m so sorry you are facing all of this. You are not alone!! I am praying you will get a sign of hope. 30 surgeries?? Words cannot express . . . I pray we will all see deliverance from the medical community and greed.

      • Trudy Thomas says:

        Thankyou Betty. That means more then you could know. I am thou though pretty alone as far as family or friends. Even sadly to say my daught to has abandoned me. I dont know why these things keep happening. I believe in God to the fullest. Im not able to attend churches. Not even any gas. And my insurance has lapped. and I could go on and on. I just want a little of life. And so less hurt and worry and pain. Your words gave me hope. Thanku from my heart Betty!
        God Bless..

      • Trudy Thomas says:

        And yes 30. But this last one was to reconstruct my nose and throat. From so many enji tubes that were used for all my obstructions. They had to shave my pallet as well. My nose and throat were so messed up I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. But now geting off all the sleep meds I have insomnia. I feel im loosing my mind from everyth. It helps so much to vent this..thanku.

  6. Trudy Thomas says:

    Thanks to all! & thankyou Jane for writing my story!

  7. Trudy Thomas says:

    Jane… Everyday I wake up and I thank God for sending you my way.
    I hope you know how thankful I am and to tell you, you have given me new hope and a sense of inner justice for what this has done to my life! You are a truely amazing woman! I will always be grateful!
    Trudy Thomas :)

  8. Della Ratcliff says:

    Hello. I am trying to get information regarding the hernia mesh lawsuit. I have never heard of it or been notified of the mesh recall. I ran across it online while researching to see if anyone has had same type of horrible complications that i have had since i had the nissen fundoplication in 2005. I was on a liquid diet for 14ths due to choking everytime i would try to eat. But i would and still to this day get choked on pretty much anything. The surgeon who performed my operation is no longer practicing due to losing his licenses for malpractice. In august 2006 my wrap was redone. But no relief and i cannot get a dr to help me due to having no insurance. I have lost 47 pounds due to this, i have severe pain everyday, large lump on my upper stomach, chest pains, nausea, cant lay on my back because I start to choke. The surgeon also put 15 metal rivets in with the mesh wrap. I have stomach complications every day was recently hospitalized for 7 days due to going 13 days unable to even swallow water. I had to have a pick line to give me nurishment my heart rate stays low and blood pressure. Due to not being able to eat hardly at all i constantly keep migraines. I have tried to locate a dr to remove this but had no luck. I now just was in hospital again two days ago for same problems. When my surgery in 2005 was performed the dr had to lift my spleen to do surgery and i am having severe trouble with my spleen now being very enlarged. I just want my life back this really has put my life upside down!! If you can be of any assistance on who i contact regarding my case it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking time to read this. I pray that you will get your life back to normal as well!!

    Sincerely,

    Della Ratcliff
    Tennessee

    • Trudy Thomas says:

      Hi Della..im crying after reading your story. My heart feels your pain. Im so so sorry to hear all this pain you are going through! Its like reliving my past… I dont feel comfortable leaving my cell number on this site.. But I would really like to help you in whatever I can. Even if its just to have someone who knows your pain. So if you want to talk more about this to me my email is forttonly2323@gmail.com. My prayers are with you. Hang there and mabe I can help you in some way. I feel your deepest pain!
      Trudy

  9. Judy says:

    Both of you ladies, go to this sie ASAP. http://teapapers.com/bladdersling/2012/02/questions-to-ask-before-mesh-removal/#comment-1743. God bless you both, tears shed for you, prayers shared for you.

    Judy
    Salt Lake City

  10. Mary says:

    GOD BLESS!!! I am going thru a odeal myself. I havent gotten a settlement offer yet. I understand it won’t be a big settlement because the memory coil did’nt break, the tack became loose, dropped down and porforated my bowel.Lots of things went wrong. That was 5 years ago this time of year. Bard and Davol sure know how to say “MERRY CHRISTMAS'(Ha Ha). Since then I have had 7 bowel obstructions. But I did’nt have to have surgery on any of them. They sure are painful! I hope things work out for the both of us. I will keep you in my prayers. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!!

    • Trudy Thomas says:

      Dear Mary.
      My heart and prayers are with you. Im so sorry to hear your going through so much pain.
      Its truely unfair how these high corporate attys who we are supose to trust are only in it for their own selfish reasons.
      They can never give back what has been taken from us. I pray for God to help and heal your body your pain and your heart.
      Im here for you anytime!
      God bless you,
      Trudy Thomas

  11. [...] 2013 Update: Most of these Kugel cases have been resolved.  C.R. Bard’s settlement offer was about $184 million for 2,600 lawsuits.  People were left very disappointed.  Here’s an article that discusses the plight of some. [...]

  12. Bill White says:

    Dear Trudy,

    I have found that 90% of the lawyers in the mesh area are pretty poor performers.
    Many are lazy and incompetent and “uncaring.”

    Deal with the best you can get– not with the biggest ads but the best “proven” track record of
    getting results. A good attorney is everything– and switch if he doesn’t perform.

    Good luck and God bless you and what you’ve been through.

    Bill

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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.