Justice was served in Philadelphia today and it came with a whopping bill. Johnson and Johnson hit with $13.5M pelvic mesh verdict. The case involved claims that J&J’s pelvic mesh implants caused a woman almost constant pain & discomfort and left unable to have sexual relations.
Justice was served in Philadelphia today and it came with a whopping bill. Johnson and Johnson hit with 13.5M pelvic mesh verdict. The case involved claims that J&J’s pelvic mesh implants caused a woman almost constant pain & discomfort and left unable to have sexual relations.
Today’s verdict is the second such award against J&J’s Ethicon, Inc. division, the makers of the faulty mesh. The jury in this case found that Ethicon’s transvaginal tape or TVT product wasn’t reasonably safe. Further, the jury concluded that plaintiff Sharon Carolino’s doctor wouldn’t have used the product in treating her if he’s known of the risks.
There are almost 180 cases in a mass tort claim against Ethicon. The mass tort is being handled in Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas and cases began heading to trial in December 2015.
The first damages award, $12.5M from a December verdict, came in plaintiff Patricia Hammons’ case. Hammons’ claims centered on Ethicon’s Prolift pelvic mesh device and were based on negligent design and inadequate warnings to Hammons’ doctor. She was implanted in 2009.
Carolino’s verdict includes $10M in punitive damages, meant to send a strong message to J&J and Ethicon. The balance of the $13.5M consists of $3.5M in compensatory damages for Carolino’s injuries. Her husband was awarded $250,000 for loss of consortium, legalese for loss of the intimate relationship with his wife.
The jury, eight women and four men, listened to testimony from several doctors over the two-week trial. Carolino had TVT implanted in 2005 to treat her stress urinary incontinence, a condition that causes a small amount of urine leakage during coughing or sneezing.
Carolino’s lawyer Shanin Specter of Kline & Specter PC, summed up his argument on Tuesday, showing that TVT had four key flaws. These flaws are:
- The pores in TVT are too small. This keeps tissue from properly growing through the device, which causes rigid scar tissue. This, in turn, causes the vagina to contract.
- The TVT mesh device changes shape after implantation. It also frays, curls or erodes.
- TVT mesh degrades in the body when implanted.
- The mesh is machine-cut, not laser-cut, which causes pieces to fall off the edges of the product. These pieces then embed in vaginal tissue.
Mr. Specter said, “Altogether, these combine to lead to permanent pain.”
Despite having follow-up surgeries to remove some of the TVT, Mr. Specter said, “[T]he pain remains or comes back or starts anew.”
Lawyer for the defense, William Gage of Butler Snow LLP, unsuccessfully challenged evidence presented regarding Mr. Specter’s alternative, Carolino’s medical history and her doctor’s testimony of his knowledge of TVT’s risks.
Another case in the pelvic mesh mass tort was set to begin trial on February 22. However, court records show that a settlement was reached in that case. No other cases have yet been scheduled.
This is a major victory for women who suffer needlessly due to pelvic mesh devices. As the second such verdict in the J&J/Ethicon mass tort, one hopes that a precedent is being established that will continue to return verdicts for injured plaintiffs.