A South Dakota nurse has been awarded $7.75 million in punitive damages in the nation’s first Ethicon mesh lawsuit to go to trial.  Last week, the New Jersey Superior Court jury hearing the Ethicon lawsuit awarded the same Plaintiff $3.35 million in compensatory damages, after finding that Johnson & Johnson had failed to provide doctors with adequate warnings about the risks associated with the Gynecare Prolift pelvic mesh device.

Ethicon Mesh Complications

The Ethicon mesh lawsuit was one of more than 2,100 similar claims pending against Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary in a consolidated litigation underway in Atlantic County Superior Court.  In her lawsuit, the 47-year-old Plaintiff said she had undergone 18 corrective surgeries to try to repair complications caused by the Prolift device. According to Bloomberg.com, a forensic economics expert testified in the punitive damage stage of the transvaginal mesh lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson spends the equivalent of the $3.35 million compensatory damage award every 45 minutes on marketing and advertising.

Transvaginal mesh devices like Prolift have been the subject of safety concerns since October 2008, when the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) revealed it had received more than 1,000 reports of complications in women who had received the devices to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.  In July 2011, the agency warned that there had been a five-fold increase in reports of serious complications associated with the use of transvaginal mesh used in prolapse repair. The FDA also modified its previous position on the frequency of such complications, stating in the alert that vaginal mesh injuries associated with pelvic organ prolapse repair were not rare.  The FDA has since ordered 33 manufacturers of transvaginal mesh devices, including Ethicon, to conduct post-market safety studies of their products as part of its review.  The agency is also considering a proposal to reclassify vaginal mesh used in pelvic organ prolapse repair as a “high-risk” medical device.

Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits Mounting

Since the FDA warning, thousands of women have filed transvaginal mesh lawsuits against Ethicon and other medical device manufacturers.  In addition to the Ethicon lawsuits pending in New Jersey, more than 2,000 claims have also been filed against Johnson & Johnson in a federal litigation underway in U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia.  Vaginal mesh litigations involving products made by American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific and C.R. Bard are also underway in the Southern District of West Virginia.  Bernstein Liebhard LLP Partner, Jeffrey S. Grand, is a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee in all of these litigations.

Mr. Grand is also serving as Co-Liaison Counsel in the New Jersey Ethicon pelvic mesh litigation, and in a second consolidated proceeding in Atlantic County Superior Court established for transvaginal mesh lawsuits involving C.R. Bard products. “We hope the manufacturer gets the clear message from the jury–that its conduct was unacceptable and that it needs to warn doctors and patients of the dangers accompanying its products,” Mr. Grand said of today’s punitive damage award.

Women who suffered serious complications from vaginal mesh may be eligible to file an Ethicon mesh lawsuit or other vaginal mesh claim to obtain compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.   Bernstein Liebhard LLP continues to offer free legal evaluations to victims of vaginal mesh injuries.  To learn more about filing a transvaginal mesh lawsuit, please contact an attorney at 1-877-779-1414.

Published February 28, 2013 by