The Lawsuit Process
When I look back at my own mesh journey and resulting lawsuit, I now know that I was like a small child, learning how to walk without the guidance from a parent. I wound up learning with every small step I took, and I am fortunate that I was willing to learn, research and read and somehow, I stumbled my way through it.
Over the years, I have often thought that you couldn’t make this stuff up, if you tried. From the fact that a woman set herself up with a website, saying she wanted to help those who suffer, when indeed she was more about helping herself. Don’t believe me? I will give you a link to read at the bottom of this blog.
In the early years, my own mind was bogged down with pain and endless problems, like not being able to urinate, without I did self-cath. I concentrated, trying to figure out how to feel better and return to normal, without realizing, I would never be ‘normal’ again. So, I did not follow lawsuits and settlements, choosing to bring relief to my own life and not worrying about those things.
It was hard work, finding a lawyer to begin with, but no matter what, I kept trying, until I did. Up until that time, I believed the same myth as everyone else did. When you are suffering because of no fault of your own, you had no problem finding a lawyer and once you did, the work was done. Now I know that is simply not true. Finding a lawyer to take your case, just isn’t that simple. You must prove you really have cause, before they will look at your situation and that means you must have had surgery, to try to correct your health situation. Of course, I did not understand that at all at first, but because I already had a second surgery, nine weeks after the implant, a lawyer listened to me and told me to get my hospital records for find the name and number of the implant.
I somehow stumbled through every stage of this process, not really understanding why I was doing it. My belief that I already had a case, was inaccurate and I did not understand that until the next round of cases began. Then I found out that I was in a waiting line for the next batch of lawsuits, just like many other women.
All through my own journey of surgeries and health issues due to the implant, I blogged my journey and the journey of other women, who left comments on my blog. I was amazed at all the health issues that an implant could bring about and often at first, I was quite shocked and taken aback. Sadly, now eight and a half years later, I am no longer shocked about anything I read or hear about the treatment of women by doctors, or even with evidence, it will not be removed from the market.
The lawsuit process is now over for many women, and they too have stumbled their way through it, without guidance by lawyers. Some are happy with the result, but as I have read on support groups in the past, that many are not. What I do know is that life continues around us, while we go through the process, which can take many years and we miss many events with our family and friends, due to complications from these implants
So, how do other women feel about the lawsuit process? Recently, a woman left a comment on my blog and I decided to share it in a complete blog about this subject and I have her permission to do so. Here is her story and her feelings about this subject.
“When I think back on the beginning of my journey to begin my legal process, I was going through a divorce. Anyone doing this will know that you must be careful not to alert the soon to be ‘Ex’, of any money that they may wish to have a claim on in the future.
With this in mind, I contacted an attorney, because I had heard there would be a cut off date for AMS (American Medical) implant lawsuits. The lawyer I found, did not have all the answers, but he found a large law firm that did, and I became part of a Tort lawsuit against the manufacturer.
I had my hands full, fighting my ‘soon to be ex-spouse’, to try to keep my home and this was taking my full attention and then some. It took four long years before I could begin my life anew. At first, I had no time to concentrate on the lawsuit and the idea I had a very large firm on board, seemed like a good idea. However, in time I began to think differently. When I first became in contact with the new law firm, instead of feeling like they were there to help me, I felt like they were there to help themselves. This feeling continued to worsen over the years until the process ended. However I still feel this way.
What I thought was going to be easy, (because AMS agreed to settle without a fight,) turned out to be anything but…. I felt that the large law firm lied often, and they had their own agenda. When I complained at first, I was coddled for a while, then before long, I was right back where I began without answers as to what point my law suit was at. My biggest issue was the lies I was told. I was given a structure and time line, then nothing happened. Getting new information seemed impossible after I signed the agreement and I felt like their only interest was being paid, and they did not care about me.
Both attorney groups received their money, long before I did and when I complained, I was told I owed additional money out of my part (several thousand) for what I felt was for a trumped up reason. Arguing with the lawyer was pointless when I stated that that I did not owe this money. They had turned it over to another company who did not want to tell me anything. I just had to put my life on hold and live without the funds I needed.
I felt like nothing was working for the victims of mesh implants, it worked for the lawyers, even though it had been MY body that was inflicted by the implant. The only person I felt really cared was Dr. Raz at UCLA, because he knew how much we suffered. I did my homework and found he had more skills than any other doctor anywhere else in the world, so I went to him to have the implant removed. He did remove it without causing further damage, but like everyone else, I now know I need to go back to have repairs for a prolapsed vagina. There will not however, be any more funds from my lawsuit, to help with all the expenses. Once you sign the settlement, it is over as far as everyone is concerned, except for the woman, who has to deal with the continuous fallout from mesh implants.
Even though I have spoken over the phone to many ‘jerk’ lawyers, the experience has made me gratified to all the other women friends I have made, who deal with their own complications from mesh implants and endure the same struggles I have.
As a foot note, I had already been conned and lied to by a spouse and I did not need to feel the same way about the lawyers I hired, to help me bring about some closure from the implant. The money I received was so small, in comparison to the money I thought I would get when I first settled my case. How can this happen?”
So now you know, filing a law suit is not simple, nor will it be an easy road to take. However, I personally feel, regardless of the outcome, we need to file against the manufacturer of the implant, to show this is happening to women and the world must know that an implant that has passed through the FDA system, is doing terrible damage to women, medically, financially and emotionally.
So what kind of expenses come out of your lawsuit? The money she was told she owed, was to do with liens placed on her lawsuit settlement by medical insurance companies, Medicaid or Medicare, which ever one you used to try to get the implant removed.
The worse part is that because none of this is explained to women before they sign up to sue, and the result I, it creates a great deal of anger. That anger stems from low settlement offers to begin with, and then even more money comes out of it, that you have never been made aware of, by the people who represent your case. Had this been explained at the very beginning, along with other expenses that will be deducted, there would be a whole lot less animosity and anger, at the end.
When it comes to insurance companies, there doesn’t seem to be any cap on what each one can claim back. This really does anger women, who have paid in high insurance premiums to begin with.
So, you may wonder how this is handled. Because, when you sign a settlement agreement for your case, your lawyer will send you a ‘portion’ of your settlement money and then they turn it over to outside companies, to go through and determine what YOU must pay back. How does all this work? I found a link for written for lawyers on how to work with their clients, concerning injury claim lawsuits. Read this.
Step Two: Understand What Types of Liens and Claims Exist
Liens and claims for reimbursement arise in personal injury cases in many different scenarios. Some types of claims to look out for:
1. Statutory: Medicare, ERISA health insurance plans, Veterans Administration, Hospital, Medi-Cal, or Workers Compensation.
2. Contractual: Medical pay under auto insurance, health insurance, individual medical providers such as doctors, x-ray service providers, ambulance, chiropractor, acupuncture, or prior attorney.
In certain instances, there may be both a statutory and contractual component, such as a health plan governed by the federal ERISA statute whose contract language must also be reviewed.
Note that liens and claims for reimbursement are very different. A valid lien can be enforced against the settlement funds, whereas a claim for reimbursement or outstanding debt may simply be the subject of a collection action.
Here is that link. https://practice.findlaw.com/practice-guide/7-steps-to-approaching-lien-claims-in-personal-injury-cases.html
There are women have been shocked at when they received the final payment after the insurance company has been paid, because it was as little as a few hundred dollars. Not much help when you need further surgeries and treatment.
You may not realize this, but this also happens if you are injured in an auto accident or on the job. Here are other types of liens, with explanations.
There are several types of liens that can be placed against a personal injury claim. The first type of lien is a healthcare lien, governed by the Health Care Services Act. 770 ILCS 23/1. Under the Act, a hospital, doctor, or physical therapist that has provided services to the injured person may place a lien against that person’s personal injury claim. For more information on how healthcare liens work.
The second type of lien is a subrogation lien. Subrogation is the right of the indemnitor to obtain reimbursement for the amount it paid to indemnify the injured party’s loss from the tortfeasor. Subrogation liens allow for the indemnitor to recover any amount it paid to the injured party from the personal injury settlement, so the injured party does not receive a double payment – payment from both the tortfeasor and the indemi. Subrogation liens normally occur when either the injured party’s health insurance or the injured party’s automotive insurance medical payment policy has paid some or all of the injured party’s medical bills.
The third type of lien is an ERISA lien. ERISA liens are liens placed by the injured party’s health insurance work benefits plan. ERISA liens are the most complicated type of liens, and have special rules. For more information on ERISA liens.
The fourth type of lien is a Medicare/Medicaid lien. Medicare and Medicaid liens are “super liens”, which means that they have a right to full reimbursement.
The last type of lien is an attorney lien, governed by the Attorneys Lien Act. 770 ILCS 5/1. An attorney lien entitles the attorney to be paid for their services in obtaining a settlement for their client. An attorney lien takes priority of all the liens. 770 ILCS 23/40.
How long will all this take? It can take a year of even longer, before you receive your final check, especially in large tort lawsuits.
Something else you may not understand. It can be many years until you receive any money at all and by that time, you may have financial distress, especially if you lose your job and take disability. I know women who still work, take constant pain medications, not because they want to work any more, but because they can’t afford to live on a meager disability income.
Before I end this blog, I want you to understand what happened if you saw the TV adverts about mesh and lawsuits and signed up without having any problems. Most lawyers would not have taken your case in the first place, but one Texas law firm borrowed millions to find women who had had a mesh implant, regardless of the status.
You can read about it here. https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2015/10/20/lawsuit-details-how-law-firms-borrow-and-pay-millions/#315b16cb61de
Here is another article about what happened when the TV adverts came out. http://blogs.reuters.com/alison-frankel/2016/04/18/the-dubious-business-of-investing-in-mass-torts/
You may wonder if you can file a complaint against a law firm. You can of course do it through the American Bar Association and here is that link https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/public-information/what-if-i-am-unhappy-with-my-lawyer-.html
You may find more help here. https://www.consumer-action.org/helpdesk/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwquTbBRCSARIsADzW88xpa__h9pjIlRgA8AUv3E8tvVy6BThPauUoC54MLZtkBbaoiCly1noaAuLqEALw_wcB
You can also read about the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-109publ2/pdf/PLAW-109publ2.pdf
You may not want to know this, but if you have never been part of a large lawsuit, there are very dubious people who coma out of nowhere, set up sites to try to find clients like you. Be aware and don’t become a target. http://www.meshangels.com/story-tellers/
If any of these links do not work, simply copy and paste.
If you would like to leave an anonymous comment here about your own experience, you are welcome to. However, do not mention the amount of your settlement.
You may now find it very difficult to find a lawyer, if you had an implant put in after December 31st 1015. This is because manufacturers did update warnings, which is how they protect themselves from more lawsuits.
I know that a judge dismissed many cases filed against Johnson & Johnson, because these cases were not proved. Proved, means that no removal surgery of any kind was performed. I do know that many new cases are sitting waiting for a Tort law firm to pick them up and begin the process again. How long will that take and how many women will make a law firm pick them up? The truth is, I have no clue. I have not been able to find you that information, so it could be a long time, due to the fact that tort law firms are now on hernia mesh cases.
You may believe you have a case because you found a lawyer to listen and you signed up. However, until that case is filed, you don’t. So ask your law firm if it has, and if the answer is yes, ask for a stamped and dated copy of the date it was filed.
Lastly, I did not know or understand why lawyers are not looking at cases after 2015 ended, until I recently read this about Boston Scientific’s update on pelvic mesh implants.
“Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) recently updated the directions for use and warnings for its pelvic mesh products, classifying the meshes as permanent implants and warning of complications related to removals.
The Marlborough, Mass.-based company added new precautions to the directions for the meshes, warning that that “regardless of the route of delivery,” the meshes have been associated with “erosion” which may require surgical removal.
“Complete removal of mesh may not be possible and additional surgeries may not always fully correct the complications,” the company wrote in its updated guidelines.
Adverse event risks associated with the device were updated to include that perforation or laceration of vessels, nerves, bladder, urethra or bowel may occur during placement. Scarring, scar contracture and ongoing pain were also added to the list of possible adverse events.
The company also warned that “In some instances the response to these events may persist as a permanent condition after the intervention,” according to the press release.
Risk factors which “impact patient outcomes” with the devices were also updated to included impaired vascularity, such as diabetes or smoking, age, pelvic floor myalgia, impaired wound healing or active infections at the surgical site.
Boston Scientific said these factors, as well as issues with untreated coagulopathies and patients with hypertonic bladders or vesico ureteral reflux should be taken into consideration before performing procedures with the devices.”