April 8, 2024
April 8, 2024

Why group litigation is a powerful tool in ensuring women’s voices are heard

Devika Jayan
Devika Jayan

Working as a paralegal in Pogust Goodhead’s Medical Products Liability team, I speak with our clients almost every day. Listening to those we represent describing their lives with a failed medical product can be harrowing, but helping them access justice is a remarkable feeling.

I joined the team at Pogust Goodhead while doing my master’s degree in medical law. I have worked on the Transvaginal Mesh (TVM) litigation for the last 2 years.

What is the TVM litigation?

At Pogust Goodhead, we represent nearly 90 women implanted with polypropylene mesh to treat either urinary incontinence or pelvic prolapse.

While the condition is not the easiest to navigate around, the women who underwent this procedure with the hope of getting better, have found themselves in a worse state.

They now suffer from a range of symptoms such as:

  • recurring incontinence
  • mobility issues
  • sexual dysfunction
  • chronic body pain.

The impact of failed medical products

When conducting calls to obtain further information, I note that some of these women have been subjected to a permanent procedure without their consent.

Others tearfully explain how their complaints since then have not been listened to. The experiences shared by these women with me, and the rest of the team vary. However, we find common ground in their nature of helplessness, struggle to be heard and the looming cloud of loneliness.

One client told me: “I am no longer able to have intercourse and my partner left me because of this. When I tried to have sex, it felt like broken glass,”

Another said: “I was advised that the surgery was keyhole and that was the only reason I consented to it. It was not until the day of the surgery that I realised that it went up my vagina. Since then, I have gone back and forth to the GP and the hospital, but no one knew what was wrong.”

Part of my role at Pogust Goodhead is ensuring these women feel listened to. They do not have many avenues to express their innermost worries or thoughts. As I listen to their stories, I carefully gauge the extent of their potential loss and damages.

Advocating for justice can be jarring. I can confidently help clients to the point that their suffering is quantifiable and backed by bills and evidence, but it can be hard to forget how upset my client was as she whispered to me how people would think she was crazy if she explained how she felt every day.

The power of group litigation

I encountered similar stories while working on Essure litigation. Essure was a permanent contraceptive device manufactured by Bayer – that is also the subject of lawsuits by Pogust Goodhead due to the impact it has had on women.

Suppose it were not for the availability of group litigation. In that case, I cannot fathom how some of our clients, who are likely to be financially struggling since surgery and battling with mental health issues, could otherwise fight for justice.

Group litigation is a true demonstration of “strength in unity” and can empower these women to draw attention to their plight in a way that cannot be ignored. It gets them a place on the table with the big sharks of the industry.

It is well noted that women face prejudices when explaining their pain and daily struggles, even to doctors. This is coupled with the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials and the lack of emphasis on women’s health during medical training.

When the problem is not so easily deconstructed, group litigation can at least help draw attention to these women’s experiences. It can give a voice to their harrowing stories and help acknowledge the wider injustices that have upended their lives.

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