First Transvaginal Mesh Trial Awards Plaintiff $11.11 Million Against Johnson & Johnson
In July of 2011, the FDA issued a Public Health Notification warning consumers of "Serious Complications Associated with Transvaginal Placement of Surgical Mesh..." At that time the FDA had received over 1,000 reports of complications associated with vaginal mesh devices. To date, over 12,000 lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of vaginal mesh products, alleging that they did not properly warn physicians or consumers of the risks associated with transvaginal mesh (TVM). The trial attorneys at Bachus & Schanker, LLC passionately advocate for the rights of TVM victims and firmly believe that the manufacturers of these products should be held accountable if they failed to warn consumers. This week, a jury sitting on the first TVM trial in thousands of lawsuits against the makers of these harmful devices agreed.
On February 25, 2013, after five days of deliberation, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff Linda Gross in her case against Johnson & Johnson. The jury agreed that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon failed to adequately warn physicians and patients about the risks associated with the vaginal mesh implant and awarded the plaintiff and her husband $3.35 million in compensatory damages. On February 28, 2013, the jury awarded the Plaintiff $7.76 million in punitive damages for a total of $11.11 million, finding Johnson & Johnson guilty of fraudulent representation and of failure to properly warn the public of the risks of their transvaginal mesh implant.
According to a company official who testified at the trial, a prototype of the Johnson & Johnson vaginal mesh implant failed in 20 percent of cases prior to its release in 2005. Further, it was shown that 27 percent of the mesh implants failed within a year of implantation.
Plaintiff Faced Numerous Complications from Transvaginal Mesh Implant
The winning Plaintiff Mrs. Gross, a South Dakota nurse, has made more than 400 visits to physicians' and physical therapists' offices and undergone multiple surgeries following the implantation of the device in July 2006. She alleged that as a result of being implanted with the mesh, she has endured excruciating pain that makes it nearly impossible for her to sit and requires her to take 20 different prescriptions.
Removal of transvaginal mesh can be complicated by properties of the mesh that cause it to harden in a woman's body and actually break down, making removal extremely difficult. Mrs. Gross surgeon, Dr. Kevin Benson, made three attempts to remove the device; other surgeons attempted to surgically extract portions of the disintegrating mesh remnants but these surgeries did not provide her relief from her pain.
The Ethicon Prolift was first introduced to the U.S. market in 2005 and was designed to treat pelvic organ collapse. In 2010 alone, physicians implanted more than 70,000 of these devices in women, which requires threading the mesh device through a vaginal incision. Johnson & Johnson pulled the device off the market last year. The FDA has instructed Johnson & Johnson and the 31 other manufacturers of trans-vaginal mesh devices to further study organ damage and complications linked to their products.