Umbilical Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Filed Over Covidien Symbotex Design Defects

Lawsuit alleges Covidien Symbotex mesh used during an umbilical hernia mesh repair caused painful complications, after a collagen film degraded over time, increasing the risk of adhesions and recurrent hernias.

Covidien’s Symbotex hernia mesh is defectively designed, according to allegations raised in a lawsuit recently filed by Pennsylvania woman, who experienced complications following an umbilical hernia repair that resulted in adhesions, chronic pain and the need for additional surgery to remove the mesh from her body.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Jennifer Fisher in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on January 23, pursuing product liability claims against Covidien, Medtronic, Tyco HealthCare, and Sofradin Corp., as defendants.

According to the umbilical hernia mesh lawsuit, Fisher’s surgeons implanted the Covidien Symbotex product during a repair procedure in September 2016, indicating that the product was designed with a collagen film, which was intended to prevent adhesions and hernia mesh complications. However, Fisher indicates that it was only a temporary measure, as the collagen film resorbs over time, degrading protection against adhesions, and possibly just delaying the problems.

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An umbilical hernia happens when a portion of the intestines bulge through the opening of the belly button. While many often correct themselves over time, larger ones, or those that do not close on their own may require surgical hernia repair, with many different surgical mesh products marketed by various different manufacturers.

However, Fisher’s lawsuit claims the Covidien Symbotex was defectively designed, and unreasonably exposes patients to a risk of complications, without providing any benefit over other hernia mesh products, which are safer alternatives.

“Although Defendants represented to health care providers that the collagen film would prevent or reduce adhesions, they failed to warn health care providers that adhesions would still form long after the collagen film resorbs, and therefore at best would provide only temporary adhesion reduction,” the lawsuit states. “Further, Defendants did not warn health care providers that when the collagen film inevitably degraded, the exposed polyester or polypropylene would become adhered to the bowel or visceral tissue.”

As a result, Fisher indicates that when her umbilical hernia mesh’s collagen film degraded, she experienced adhesions, inflammation, hernia recurrence, and needed to have the mesh surgically removed. The lawsuit blames those injuries on the Covidien Symbotex mesh’s allegedly defective design, joining number of similar hernia mesh lawsuits filed against Covidien over various different products sold in recent years.

This is the latest of numerous lawsuits filed over the failures of Covidien hernia mesh products; most of which have been focused on the Covidien Parietex mesh.

February 2023 Covidien Hernia Mesh Lawsuit Update

Thousands of Covidien hernia mesh lawsuits have been filed over problems with Symbotex mesh, Parietex mesh and other similar products constructed of polypropylene, each involving similar allegations that the designs were defective and resulted in painful complications.

Most of the U.S. litigation is currently pending in the state court system of Massachusetts, where Covidien’s U.S. headquarters are located. However, Fisher’s umbilical hernia mesh lawsuit will be consolidated with about 200 other cases filed in the federal court system, which are currently centralized before U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris, as part of an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation.

Throughout 2023, it is expected that Judge Saris will preside over a “bellwether” process, where the parties will conduct coordinated discovery into a small group of representative claims, which will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their claims, and how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation.

While the outcomes of any early bellwether trials will not be binding on plaintiffs in the litigation, they may help drive the parties toward hernia mesh settlements that would avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be held.

At least three other hernia mesh MDLs were previously established for claims involving other polyethylene products sold by different companies, with more than 15,400 Bard hernia mesh lawsuits centralized in the Southern District of Ohio, another 3,600 Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits centralized in the Northern District of Georgia and 3,251 Atrium C-Qur lawsuits centralized in the District of New Hampshire. Many of those claims settled before the first claims ever went before a jury.

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