C.R. Bard finally exhausted its appeals in the first case to go to trial involving its Avaulta transvaginal mesh product. The jury awarded plantiff Christine Scott $5.5M, split 60/40 between Bard and the operating surgeon. Bard immediately appealed. The last chance for reversal came in February 2015 and Bard broke out the checkbook in March. This was kept quiet; a reporter following the case discovered the payment by reviewing Bard’s public SEC investor reports.
It’s one of the biggest pieces of legal news you’ve never heard pertaining to women’s health. It also happened almost eight months ago. Bard finally paid damages in first Avaulta transvaginal mesh case.
How is it that such a thing passed by largely unnoticed? Jane Akre of MeshMedicalDeviceNewsDesk.com found the information buried in C.R. Bard’s 10-Q quarterly report submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last month. Such reports are a matter of public record and you can see it here.
The case, filed in July 2012, involved plaintiff Christine Scott and was the first case to name a major mesh manufacturer. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, giving Christine and her husband a $5.5M award, $500k of which was for Mr. Scott’s loss of consortium. The implanting surgeon, Dr. Tillaikarasi Kannappan, was found to bear 40% of the fault, reducing Bard’s share of the award to $3.6M.
As often happens, the company appealed. The appellate court affirmed the decision in November 2014 and Bard petitioned to appeal to the California Supreme Court. That last chance for dodging responsibility was denied in February 2015, forcing Bard to break out the checkbook.
The Scott’s case is unique in two ways: it was the first transvaginal pelvic mesh case to go to trial and the first such case in which a plaintiff was awarded and paid damages, rather than a settlement.
Elaine Houghton of Houghton and Gene Lorenz represented the Scotts at trial. Ms. Houghton gave an interview to KGET-TV 17 in Bakersfield, California during which she said that the product that caused Christine’s injuries was only tested on “16 rats, 12 rabbits, four sheep and, by their own researcher’s admission, the next living being this product went into was women.”
I find this appalling. While Bard ceased sales of Avaulta in July 2012 upon an FDA request for three years of post-approval monitoring, the company still faces over 21,000 product liability suits involving its transvaginal mesh. A multidistrict litigation (MDL) was recently filed in federal court in Charleston, West Virginia consolidating 12,735 of those cases.
Christine Scott said, after winning the suit, “Thank you God. We can finally get the word out to women.” Indeed we can.
It’s not bad enough that Bard was negligent in the matter. Dr. Kannappan’s negligence reads like the script for a bad TV show. She had one day of training from Bard. She was told that Avaulta should not be used for treating women
who are sexually active or who have only a mild prolapse. Correction: Dr. Kannappan was not made aware that Avaulta is not for use in treating sexually active women. The author apolgizes for the error.
Christine Scott experienced incontinence during athletic activities and had a mild prolapse of her bladder and rectum.
Dr. Kannappan implanted a mesh sling and two Avaulta Plus mesh kits (anterior and posterior) to treat Scott’s issues.
The worst part is that Dr. Kannappan admits that she didn’t bother to read the instructions for using Avaulta Plus! Instead, she watched a DVD on the technique roughly one week before she performed Scott’s surgery.
Seriously, how is this woman even allowed to keep her license? Actually, she’s not, at least not in New York. In November 2003, she faced disciplinary action for negligence and incompetence. She was disciplined by the Medical Board of California, but was allowed to keep her license. A call to her office today confirmed that she is actively taking new patients. New York, however, forced her to surrender her license to practice based on the disciplinary action in California.
Personally, I don’t think this woman is qualified to remove a hangnail, much less perform major surgery.