Kelly Holleran Nov. 19, 2012, 9:51am

A group of women claim a piece of mesh inserted into their tissue to prevent urinary incontinence has not worked as promised and instead has caused them to endure additional medical trauma.

Lead plaintiffs Kimberlee Ann Kasperzick and Joseph Kasperzick and 89 others filed a lawsuit Oct. 24 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against American Medical Systems.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege they agreed to have a mesh implant manufactured by American Medical Systems inserted into their bodies in order to correct their pelvic organ prolapse and/or their stress urinary incontinence. These conditions can be embarrassing and painful and are marked by the loss of urine during movement that puts pressure on the bladder, such as laughing, coughing or sneezing, according to the complaint. Women normally experience the incontinence, which can be caused by menopause or childbirth, the suit states.

There are several treatment options for the two conditions, one of which are the pelvic mesh products the plaintiffs opted for, the complaint says. Although American Medical Systems touted the product as a safe alternative to other treatments, the mesh actually caused women to experience adverse effects, the plaintiffs claim.

“Defendant’s pelvic mesh products incorporate a monofilament polypropylene mesh intended for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence,” the suit states.

“Despite claims that this material is inert, the emerging scientific evidence suggests that this material is biologically incompatible with human tissue and promotes an immune response in a large subset of the population receiving defendant’s pelvic mesh products containing this material.”

The mesh, which is implanted into an area of the body where high levels of bacteria are present, allow these bacteria to adhere to the mesh, causing surrounding tissue to break down, according to the complaint. In addition, the mesh usually shrinks inside the body, causing tissue to either become inflamed or to become fibrotic and contract, the suit states. Due to the mesh’s inelasticity, women can experience pain during normal daily activities such as sexual intercourse and defecation, the complaint says.

Because of the body’s rejection of the mesh, the product often becomes loose or shifts position within the body, causing women to undergo additional, revisionary procedures, the complaint says.

American Medical Systems knew of the damages its mesh products could cause, but continued to advertise its product as safe, according to the complaint.

Had the plaintiffs known of the damages the mesh would cause to their bodies, they claim they would not have had the product inserted into them.

Because of the mesh implants, the plaintiffs claim they suffered grievous bodily injuries, incurred medical costs and lost wages, according to the complaint. They also experienced extreme embarrassment, shame, anguish and anxiety, the suit states.

They blame American Medical Systems for products liability, negligence, violation of consumer protection laws and loss of consortium.

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages, plus all applicable statutory damages, a disgorgement of profits, pre-judgment interest, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Christopher Cueto and Michael J. Gras of the Law Office of Christopher Cueto in Belleville; Robert L. Salim of Salim-Beasley in Natchitoches, La.; and Kenneth T. Fibich of Fibich, Hampton, Leebron, Briggs and Josephson in Houston will be representing them.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-571.

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