Surgical Staples Lawsuit | Free Case Evaluations | 24/7 Service
On March 8, 2019, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) released a letter to healthcare providers describing 41,000 safety issue reports the agency received about surgical staples.
In the letter, the FDA noted that between 2011 and 2018, surgical staple errors resulted in 366 deaths, 9,000 serious injuries, and over 32,000 other forms of malfunctions. As a result, many lawsuits are unfolding against the makers of these devices, citing that because they released unsafe products into the market, they owe injured claimants compensation.
The bottom line: If you or a loved one suffered harm because of surgical staples, you can pursue a lawsuit against the liable parties. Financial recovery in your case could account for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Key takeaways from surgical staple lawsuits
Here are some key details about surgical staple lawsuits at a glance:
- Plaintiffs claim that some of the nation’s top surgical staple producers knowingly allowed dangerous products to harm patients.
- More than 56,000 adverse events were reported to the FDA regarding surgical staples. However, this information was not made public for years afterward, per Kaiser Health News.
- In 2015, a landmark case secured an $80 million verdict for an injured claimant who suffered life-threatening conditions after receiving surgical staples. After further investigation, Ethicon was found responsible for its defective product.
- Since then, claimants have filed individual lawsuits against various surgical staple manufacturers.
- With the help of a lawyer from our network, you can hold these parties accountable for harming you or your loved one.
What are surgical staples?
Surgical staples are exactly what they sound like: staples. They are sometimes used in place of sutures or stitches and are usually made out of stainless steel or high-grade plastic.
Per Healthline, surgical staples don’t dissolve in the body during the healing process as stitches are designed to do. However, there are several benefits of surgical staples, including:
- They reduce surgery time.
- They tend to heal more effectively and reduce scarring.
- They can be less painful than alternatives.
For years, surgical staples have served as vital resources for surgeons and other healthcare practitioners. However, as more information becomes available, it appears that some staple brands have done more harm than good.
What are surgical staples used for?
Surgical staples are sometimes seen as a better alternative to stitches or sutures. They are also used for complex wound or incision closures, per Healthline.
They may be used in procedures such as:
- Gastrointestinal operations
- Gynecologic surgery
- Thoracic surgery
- And more
In an ideal situation, these mechanisms close complicated wounds and allow for speedy recovery times. In less-than-ideal situations, these staples lead to life-threatening complications.
What is the case against Ethicon and other surgical staples manufacturers?
Let’s get one thing out of the way first. The pending lawsuits regarding surgical staples aren’t against the mechanisms themselves. Instead, they’re against the makers of these defective products.
These lawsuits allege that certain companies that produced surgical staples knew about the products’ potential harm but failed to notify the public. As a result, countless people suffered severe injuries, life-threatening infections, and other dire health consequences.
Many lawsuits are against two companies named Ethicon and Medtronic. They’re two of the largest surgical staple manufacturers in the U.S., and they make 80% of every stapler used in American hospitals.
Surgical staples lawsuits have led to settlements
In 2012, retired police officer Florence Kuhlmann underwent a surgery that involved surgical staples. After complaining of stomach pain and discomfort, doctors found that her bowels had been stapled to her rectal wall, rupturing her bowels. In the end, a judge and jury awarded $9.8 million in compensatory damages and $70 million in punitive damages.
Her lawsuit hinged on one important fact: because Ethicon (the defendant) knew about its product’s propensity for harm but failed to issue a recall or notify the public, it should be held responsible. Since then, many lawsuits have alleged similar wrongdoings.
What health effects did people suffer?
According to the FDA, defective surgical staplers have led to the following health conditions:
- Sepsis (also known as “blood poisoning”)
- Organ perforation
- Fistulas (the abnormal connection of two body parts or organs)
- Organ and tissue tears
- Increased risk of secondary health conditions, like cancer
- Internal bleeding
- Life-threatening complications and death
Ethicon and other companies are responsible for surgical staple errors
Ethicon and Medtronic aren’t the only companies responsible for issuing defective products. The following organizations are also involved:
- Reach Surgical
- Meril Life
- U.S. Surgical Corporation
- Welfare Medical
- Zimmer Biomet
- CareFusion Corporation
- Frankenman International
- Smith & Nephew
- Purple Surgical
Surgical staples have undergone many recalls in the last decade
The FDA has issued dozens of recalls on surgical staples, dating back to 2003. Still, this did not dissuade product manufacturers from allowing these items to reach consumers. Ethicon’s surgical staple product recall was categorized as a Class I recall, meaning that these products could seriously harm consumers.
How do you know if surgical staples caused your losses?
After any kind of procedure, whether it involves surgical staples or not, you should be aware of certain complications. You should report any concerns to your doctor so they can better examine your condition. Some indicators of surgical staple complications include:
- Bruising around the incision site
- Pus or blood oozing from the surgical site
- Pain or disconcerting numbness
- A change in your bodily functions (like whether you can have a bowel movement)
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Heat around the surgical site
- The wound reopening
If you experience any of these signs, go to the emergency room or schedule an appointment with your doctor. The longer you wait to seek a professional opinion, the more at risk your health.
You may qualify for legal action if the following apply to you
Right now, you may wonder if you qualify to file a lawsuit against a surgical staple manufacturer. If you can answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions, you may have a valid case:
- Did you undergo an operation or procedure that involved surgical staples?
- Did those surgical staples directly cause health complications?
- Did you suffer financial, physical, and emotional losses?
- Did the manufacturer of the surgical staples know (or should have known) about a possible danger?
If you’re not sure whether you qualify to pursue compensation, consider utilizing our network of attorneys. We connect injured claimants to qualified product liability lawyers with experience in product liability cases. These individuals can evaluate your circumstances and determine your recourse options.
You can recover these damages through a surgical staples lawsuit
The value of your losses depends on the specifics of your situation, including:
- The extent of the injury
- Whether you lost a loved one or suffer a permanent disability
- The value of your financial losses (such as medical bills, lost income, and more)
- Your emotional health and other consequences to your life
Compensable losses in your case may include the following:
Economic damages related to your financial losses
After suffering harm or losing a loved one to a surgical staples injury, economic damages in your case could comprise:
- Medical bills. You can seek the cost of surgical repairs, hospitalization, and cosmetic surgery. These costs may extend well into the future, depending on the severity of your injury.
- Lost income. Your settlement or court award may include the cost of your lost wages, bonuses, tips, commissions, and employee benefits (like insurance).
- Loss of future earning capacity. Surgical staple errors can cause lifelong disabilities that prevent you from working full-time or even at all. Compensation in your case could cover your lost future wages and inability to work.
- Assistive devices. This includes the cost of wheelchairs, crutches, drains, colostomy bags, and in-home modifications.
Non-economic damages, or those pertaining to your non-financial hardships
The law allows injured claimants to seek damages for more than financial losses. It also allows claimants to seek compensation for the physical and emotional ways their injuries have affected them. Non-economic damages in your case may include:
- Disability. A botched surgery can have lifelong implications on your mobility, ability to live independently, and mental health. Your settlement can account for the way the error affected your day-to-day function.
- Pain and suffering. This expense compensates you for your physical pain and emotional suffering. It’s calculated based on the circumstances of your situation, like your mental health and missed time from work.
- Disfigurement. Many healthcare providers use surgical staples because they minimize the risk of scarring. When these products malfunction, however, they can completely alter one’s appearance.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. If you’re unable to partake in activities you once enjoyed, pursue your career, or otherwise live a full life, you can seek compensation for this hardship.
Punitive damages, or those intended to punish the defendant
Earlier, we mentioned that in the case of Kuhlmann v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery LLC, the plaintiff secured $70 million in punitive damages. These damages were not intended to cover the victim’s financial losses. Rather, they were intended to punish the negligent party — in this case, Ethicon.
Punitive damages are seldom awarded in personal injury cases. However, this legal precedent suggests that in these cases, punitive damages are a possibility.
How long do I have to file my lawsuit?
How long you have to file your lawsuit depends on many factors unique to your situation. While many of these lawsuits are against the makers of defective surgical staples, some of them also accuse healthcare providers of performing subpar procedures.
- The statute of limitations in your case depends on where you live. Some states give you a year to file your lawsuit while others allow for more leniency.
- Some states allow for the “discovery” rule. This would give you additional time from the date you discovered your condition to file.
- The nature of your case also dictates your legal deadline. Product liability and medical malpractice cases sometimes come with different filing rules and timeframes.
- If you’re filing on behalf of a late loved one, different deadlines may apply. The statute of limitations generally begins from the date of your injury or when you discovered it. However, for wrongful death lawsuits, your filing deadline begins from the day of your loved one’s passing.
It’s important to understand your case’s statutory deadline
The statute of limitations is one of the most important laws surrounding your case. Why?
- Failing to file your case on time could jeopardize it. If the court sees that you filed outside of the applicable deadline, they could dismiss your case with prejudice. This would prevent you from filing it again––even if additional details come to light.
- If the courts dismiss your case, the other party has no obligation to offer compensation. The financial burden of your injuries could fall solely to you.
Connecting with a lawyer from our network is one way to protect your legal rights. They can determine your case’s deadline and take action accordingly.
How can a lawyer from our network help you seek compensation?
Major corporations sometimes go to great lengths to protect their interests. After learning about your case, they may send you pushy messages or even have their lawyers talk you into dropping the lawsuit.
Your legal representative can stand between you and these entities. You can expect your legal team to do the following:
A lawyer will gather evidence to prove your case
Your lawsuit alone will not yield compensation. You need supporting information to assert the cause of your injuries and the cost of your damages.
Supporting information to demonstrate these facts could include:
- Imaging scans
- Testimony from your doctor, family members, and yourself
- Information from the FDA about the product
- The treatments needed to address the problem
- Your medical bills, income statements, and other injury-related receipts
- Photos of the surgical site
- The names of your medications
- Your loved one’s death certificate and cause of death (if you’re filing a wrongful death lawsuit)
A lawyer will consult with field experts on your case
The above information alone may not compel a judge and jury to award damages. Your lawsuit lawyer may consult with industry experts regarding various aspects of your situation, including your damages, health condition, and mental state.
Some of these specialists may include:
- Healthcare professionals, like doctors, nurses, professors, and surgeons
- Mental health professionals
These professionals’ insight can reveal important facts about your financial losses, pain and suffering, and overall situation.
A lawyer can calculate the value of your losses
It’s important to know the true value of your damages. With this goal figure in mind, you can seek compensation that fully covers the cost of your injury-related losses. In addition to consulting with industry experts, your lawyers may use the following forms of evidence to calculate your losses:
- Employment records
- Wage statements
- Medical bills
- Physical therapy invoices
- Receipts from necessary medical equipment
- Your personal testimony
A lawyer will attempt to negotiate a settlement
Kuhlmann v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery LLC set a legal precedent for these types of cases. Now that surgical staple manufacturers know they’re possibly liable for victims’ injuries, they may offer out-of-court settlements.
If negotiating a settlement is not an option, your lawyer can pursue a verdict at trial in order to seek compensation.
A lawyer will manage your lawsuit
Product liability lawsuits are admittedly complicated. Dealing with cases involving major medical device makers requires substantial evidence and preparation. To help your civil case, your representative can:
- File your case in the appropriate jurisdiction
- Prepare you to give a statement
- Take depositions
- Present your case’s evidence
- Request the full scope of your damages from the liable party
- Manage and abide by all courtroom procedures
- Object to any unfair proceedings
- Communicate with the involved parties
- Guide your case through to a verdict
After filing your case, the liable party may offer a settlement. If this amount covers your losses, you can avoid a trial.
You could pay nothing out-of-pocket for legal aid
Many of the lawyers in our network work on a contingency-fee basis. In this arrangement, these firms finance their clients’ cases — which can include everything from consulting to filing fees.
When an attorney takes your case, you can expect to:
- Partake in a free case review about your damages, circumstances, and health condition
- Agree to your lawyer’s terms of payment in writing
- Have a lawyer set your case in motion without paying anything upfront
- Have a portion of your potential settlement go toward your attorney’s fees
- Pay nothing if your lawyer doesn’t “win” your lawsuit
Now is the time to consider your legal options and hold these malicious corporations responsible –– not worrying about affording legal aid.
Commonly asked questions about surgical staple lawsuits
We know that you want to have the “big picture” before you connect with a lawyer from our network. Right now, we can provide answers to some of these most commonly-asked questions:
What is the average settlement for a surgical staple case?
There’s no data available to answer this question. The outcomes of private insurance negotiations are not always available to the public.
However, you should know that the value of your specific case will depend on your age, health condition, and financial losses.
Can I file a case on behalf of an injured or late loved one?
This depends on where you live. Every state has different rules regarding who can file lawsuits on behalf of others.
In general, if your child suffered harm due to surgical staples, you can file a lawsuit on their behalf. If you lost a loved one, however, this again depends on where you live.
While some family members can initiate legal action, other states dictate that only “personal representatives” can do so. These entities can be named by the courts or in a decedent’s will.
How long does it take to resolve a product liability lawsuit?
Lawsuits of this nature can take time to resolve — sometimes, several years. The progression of a case depends on a lot of factors, including the evidence to support the case and whether or not the defendant is willing to negotiate an out-of-court settlement.
Your lawyer’s job isn’t just to secure compensation for your losses — it’s also to keep your case moving forward. Remember: if you’re represented on a contingency-fee basis, your lawyer’s paycheck rides on your case’s success.
If you don’t recover compensation, they don’t recover compensation for their help. This provides them an extra incentive to advance your lawsuit.
What do I need to prove in my surgical staples case?
In civil cases involving car accidents (for example), you have to prove negligence, meaning that someone acted without regard for others’ safety. However, your case is different. That’s because in product liability cases, you don’t prove negligence. Instead, your evidence must assert:
- You (or a loved one) underwent a procedure that involved surgical staples.
- The surgical staples’ manufacturer knew (or should have known) about the possibility of harm, but did not recall the product or warn healthcare providers.
- You suffered harm or lost a loved one.
If your legal team can prove these three things, then you could secure compensation for your injury-related expenses.
About our services
We’re not a law firm. We’re a lawyer referral service. Our number one goal is to connect injured claimants to legal resources. Our directory is filled with board-certified, trial-ready lawyers who handle medical device lawsuits against major corporations and other related matters.
Here’s what you can expect from us:
Learn if you qualify
We encourage all prospective clients to fill out our online evaluation form. Here, we’ll ask for the following:
- Your name
- Address, including the city, zip code, and state
- Your phone number
- Your email address
- A brief description of your situation
While describing your case, be sure to include as many details as possible. We want to know about the details of your surgery, when you discovered your condition, and what financial losses you incurred.
Help from our nationally recognized referral service
We’re not just any legal referral service. We take pride in helping injured people. Some of our memberships include:
- We’re one of the founding members of the Mass Torts Vendor Association. Our vision is to provide outstanding service with dignity and respect for claimants’ needs.
- We’re also part of the Mass Torts Vendor Association’s Advisory Working Committee. We frequently provide insight to the Committee about what practices can enhance our clients’ experiences.
- We belong to The National Trial Lawyers, an invitation-only organization that includes some of the nation’s primer attorneys.
With our experience, we work to connect people who’ve been injured with excellent legal assistance.
A free case review with a surgical staples lawsuit lawyer
Many of the lawyers in our directory offer free case reviews. This allows you to describe your situation to a legal professional who can assess your situation and explain your options. If you don’t connect with a lawyer or their firm, no problem; these consultations come with no obligation.
Fill out a free case evaluation form now
Ready to learn more about moving forward with a surgical staples lawsuit? Fill out our case evaluation form now. We’ll be in contact as soon as we review your situation’s details. Remember: the statute of limitations in your case is ticking, so prompt action is of the essence.