A federal jury returned a verdict on Sept. 8 following a two-week, bellwether trial in Charleston, West Virginia, awarding the plaintiffs, Jo Huskey and her husband, Allen, a total of $3.27 million for damages caused by a TVT-O pelvic mesh sling device, manufactured by Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Jeffrey Kuntz, a partner at Wagstaff & Cartmell in Kansas City, was on the trial team for the plaintiffs, along with Ed Wallace of Wexler Wallace in Chicago, and Fidelma Fitzpatrick of Motely Rice in Providence, Rhode Island.
"I respect the jury for finding that the TVT-O sling is not the gold standard but rather that it was the cause of life long, irreversible complications from which Ms. Huskey will never recover," Kuntz said. "Although Ms. Huskey will never be the same, I am glad she received some small amount of justice with this verdict."
Ethicon is currently facing 33,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits. An $11 million verdict was awarded in a vaginal mesh trial in New Jersey state court last year (Case No. 6341-10) to a woman who received the Gynecare Prolift device. The jury’s award included compensatory and punitive damages.
Another jury awarded $1.2 million in a trial in Texas state court in April (Case No. No. 12-14350). According to court records the Texas jury also found Ethicon’s transvaginal mesh to be defective. This case was filed on behalf of a 64-year-old woman who claimed that erosion of the mesh inside her body had caused chronic pelvic pain.
According to court documents, the Ethicon litigation is just one of many established in this jurisdiction to handle the mesh claims. There are more than 60,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits pending against seven pelvic mesh manufacturers in the Southern District of West Virginia.
According to court documents, the TVT-O mid-urethral sling device, used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, had degraded and eroded Huskey's body, leaving her with pain, scar tissue, and a damaged pelvic floor even after the device was removed. According to court documents, the Huskeys claimed both that the device was defectively designed and that Ethicon had failed to properly warn of the dangers of the device.
The found in favor of the Huskeys on both their design defect and failure to warn claims, and found Ethicon liable under both strict liability and negligence claims. The $3.27 million verdict included $200,000 awarded to Mr. Huskey for loss of consortium damages.
The case was the first to reach a verdict in the federal multi-district litigation pending before Judge Joseph R. Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The MDL case is In re Ethicon, Inc., Pelvic Repair Systems Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2327.
Wagstaff & Cartmell is involved in thousands of cases pending across the United States involving various pelvic mesh devices that are alleged to have design and warning defects and that have caused serious injuries to thousands of women. Tom Cartmell is a co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee in the Ethicon MDL.