A North Carolina couple will collect $1.5 million from C.R. Bard Inc. (NYSE:BCR) after a jury ruled in their favor in a product liability lawsuit over one of Bard’s line of hernia-repair products.
Christopher and Laure Thorpe won $1.3 million and $200,000, respectively, in one of several "bellwether" cases over Bard subsidiary Davol Inc.’s Composix Kugel hernia patches. The devices were the subject of a Class I recall in December 2005 after Davol received reports that the patch broke apart inside several patients. Specifically, a recoil ring used to secure the mesh patch to tissue perforations was said to have separated, and in some cases, began to move throughout the abdomen, damaging internal organs. Many other patients reported severe pain or other complications following repair surgery.
Through late last year, more than 2,700 plaintiffs had filed suit in either federal or state courts pursuing product-liability claims for personal injuries, with most of those cases since transferred to the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island.
Christopher Thorpe was implanted with one of the patches in November 2005, to repair a ventral hernia, according to court documents. About two years later he " began suffering from severe abdominal pain and abdominal cramping, and was treated for an abdominal wall abscess" in October 2007, according to the documents, and spent six days in the hospital to treat a fever and abdominal swelling and redness.
Later that month Thorpe needed surgery to treat the abscess, during which the patch was debrided and the abscess drained; a negative-pressure wound therapy device was put in place, according to court documents. But by the end of November 2007 Thorpe had developed a fistula from a broken recoil ring from the patch. In February 2008 he checked in to the emergency room at Duke University Medical Center with nausea, abdominal pain and "increased yellow-green semi-solid drainage from his hernia repair site," according to the documents. In April of that year surgeons treated his enterocutaneous fistula, excised the patch, resected his bowel, repaired the ventral hernia and adhesiolymis, treated the abdominal infection and installed a new NPWT system.
"After surgically entering Mr. Thorpe’s abdomen, it became clear to the surgeons that ‘the ring that was keeping the mesh extended was absent from the right lateral border of the mesh. In fact, the ring was found to be sticking out into the subcutaneous tissues.’ The broken memory recoil ring was ‘bile stained’ and removed and it was suspected that Mr. Thorpe had become septic," according to court documents. "Through further dissection, Mr. Thorpe’s surgeons also observed that the Composix Kugel Patch ‘had clearly lost its normal alignment and folded upon itself exposing the rough Marlex surface to the bowel.’ Mr. Thorpe’s surgeons spent approximately another 3½ hours removing the adhesions of the Composix Kugel Patch to the bowel, resected portion of the bowel, repairing the damage caused by the defective patch, and entirely removing the Composix Kugel Patch components. Due to the soiling and contamination of the abdominal contents because of the bowel perforations, Mr. Thorpe could not receive a new mesh repair and was instead irrigated and closed."
The Thorpe’s sued Bard and Davol in November 2008. Earlier this week a jury handed down the $1.5 million verdict, which will be covered by an arrangement with an insurance company Bard inked earlier this year. The insurer committed to covering an unspecified amount of claims stemming from product liability lawsuits over the hernia patches.