Carbondale man sues mesh maker in St. Clair County; Former judge represents plaintiff

Looking back, a Marion County man would never have had mesh inserted during a hernia repair surgery. But at the time, the product seemed like a suitable, cost-effective and appropriate solution to his problem, according to a recently filed lawsuit.

On April 30, 2009, Richard Hines arrived at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale, where defendant Drs. Marsha Ryan and Lloyd Neil McCain performed a hernia repair surgery. During the procedure, the doctors implanted a Bard Composix Kugel hernia mesh into Hines, according to the complaint filed Dec. 26 in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

The patch, which is manufactured by defendants C.R. Bard and Davol, was frequently used to repair ventral hernias and is made up of two pieces of mesh surrounding a flexible plastic ring. Once the surgeon places the folded mesh inside the patient’s body, it is supposed to spring open and allow tissue to grow over it.

However, soon after the Kugel patch appeared on the market, numerous complications began to surface. In fact, unbeknownst to Hines, certain sizes of the patch were recalled on March 24, 2006, according to the complaint.

Years after the recall and only months following his surgery, Hines began to experience severe problems in 2010 when he suddenly developed severe abdominal pain. He rushed to Memorial Hospital on Dec. 26, 2010. Suspecting Hines was suffering from acute appendicitis, doctors performed an emergency exploratory abdominal surgery, the suit states. During the procedure, they discovered the mesh had folded on itself and had exposed a polypropylene lining, the complaint says.

Throughout the next few months, Hines claims he endured a long and painful recovery process during which he nearly lost his life. At one point, Hines was hospitalized after developing MRSA. The bacteria had colonized on the mesh product and remained in his body after the mesh was partially removed on Dec. 26, 2010, according to the complaint.

In January 2011, Hines returned to the hospital for renal failure, which was also linked to the mesh implantation, the suit states.

Hines underwent a second revisionary surgery at Mayo Clinic on June 1, 2011, to repair the hernia mesh and its related complications, the complaint says.

Hines claims he never would have experienced such severe complications had the defendants revealed the problems with the mesh. Instead, the defendants excluded certain mesh failures from their complications database, misidentified numerous failed Kugel patch events and failed to properly conduct design validation reviews, among other negligent acts, according to the complaint.

Hines alleges design defect, failure to warn, negligent design, negligent failure to warn, negligence, breach of implied warranty, fraud and intentional misrepresentation, violation of the Illinois Trade Practices Act and medical malpractice against the defendants.

In his complaint, Hines seeks actual damages of more than $825,000, plus unspecified punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Michael J. O’Malley, Jeffrey J. Lowe, Andrew J. Cross and Jacob A. Flint of Carey, Danis and Lowe in Belleville and St. Louis will be representing him.

O'Malley is a former circuit judge in St. Clair County and had once presided over pharmaceutical cases. He retired in 2010.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 12-L-675.

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