Lawyer Pelvic Mesh Scam Becoming More Prevalent, Women Report
There is a growing number of lawyer scammers who are manipulating women with pelvic meshes to go back under the knife in order to gain sympathy from the court in cases against mesh manufacturers. Often, investigators have found, these attorneys will solicit the help of third-party marketing companies to search through medical records and pinpoint woman who have had the surgery. They dial their numbers and convince them to file a lawsuit, only after having surgery, sometimes unnecessarily.
A lawyer hires marketers who then turn to finance companies willing to provide high-interest loans to clients who go through the motions. These loans are repaid only if the clients receive a payout. The physicians who perform the follow-up surgeries designed to make women more lucrative in the courtroom are lined up by the marketing companies themselves.
Many patients have reported they incur long-time post-surgery physical problems not discussed by their lawyer ahead of time, become severely depressed and are unable to return to work. Some even have to have the mesh reinserted afterward. So, not only could they have undergone a medically unnecessary operation, they then have a lower quality of life.
Interviews with dozens of women, attorneys, financiers, and marketers, as well as a scan of court records and confidential documents, indicate that hundreds of potential female plaintiffs have been suckered into this money-making scandal that arose after a few law firms realized early on women who have the implants still in their bodies received smaller settlements than those who had them taken out.
Newly established companies such as the Brooklyn-based Law Cash came into the game to capitalize on the scheme by providing upfront cash to plaintiffs hoping for big legal settlements. The mesh implant industry is especially attractive given the attention it has gotten both in the legal system and in the media as of late. Millions of women around the world have received mesh implants and tens of thousands of them have reported being harmed by these products. The implants are used to correct pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when a woman’s organs fall and press against the vagina because of weakened pelvic muscles. The mesh reinforces the pelvic wall but can lead to complications.
There are more than 100,000 plaintiffs in federal court alone fighting alongside a lawyer against big manufacturers, including Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson. Many more are litigating at the state level or in other areas of the world. Thus far, both Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson have stood by the quality of their products, although they have set aside more than $3 billion to cover related legal expenses as needed.
Women with mesh implants have reported they began receiving unsolicited phone calls, some with international numbers or originating from outside of the U.S. They didn’t know how these marketers found them and seemed to know everything about their medical histories. Some women had vague memories of answering an online ad about mesh problems prior to the solicitations.
“I think my privacy was breached,” said 66-year-old Jennifer Godsoe who lives in Cumberland, Maine. “The more I think about it, the more upset I get.”
One of the larger surgical providers involved is Surgical Assistance, a Florida-based company operated by Wesley Blake Barber, who coordinated with the women, doctors and funding companies to get patients into surgery. Women who opted for a removal procedure were flown to Florida and Georgia after their accommodations were arranged, then sent to walk-in clinics, according to court documents. They generally didn’t even meet the doctors who would be operating on them until just beforehand.
Although participating physicians have argued that the procedures performed were medically necessary, and it’s absurd for anyone to question this, it’s much clearer that the high profits associated with the scheme were simply too attractive to turn down. Operating physicians reported making as much as $14,000 a day, sometimes performing four or five removals before the close of business.