A Pennsylvania jury awarded $2.1 million to a woman who suffered serious complications after Ethicon, Inc.’s Gynecare Prolift mesh deteriorated in her body.
The May 26 verdict in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, marks the fourth consecutive defeat for Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon division in a Pennsylvania transvaginal mesh lawsuit. (Case No. 130603835)
“Thousands of women across the country, including many of our own clients, are pursuing similar pelvic mesh claims against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon. We are pleased with the jury’s finding, and will continue to monitor upcoming trials,” says Sandy A. Liebhard, a partner at Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective drugs and medical devices.
This latest trial involved a woman who was implanted with Prolift mesh in 2006 to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. According to her complaint, erosion of the mesh into her vagina and bladder resulted in permanent complications, including constant pelvic pain, incontinence, urinary tract infections, and severe pain with sexual intercourse. The jury deliberated for just nine hours before delivering its decision last Friday.
Last week’s verdict came just a month after another Pennsylvania jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon to pay $20 million in punitive and compensatory damages to a woman who suffered complications related to Ethicon’s Gynecare TVT-Secur implant. Philadelphia juries have awarded $12.5 million and $13.5 million to two other transvaginal mesh plaintiffs.
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson and other device makers began to mount in U.S. courts after the issuance of a 2008 U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) alert warning that the devices had been linked to at least 1,000 reports of serious injuries over a three year period. The agency updated its warning July 2011, after the number of reported transvaginal mesh complications related to prolapse repair tripled. Among other things, the FDA modified its previous stance that such injuries were rare.
In 2012, Ethicon announced it would stop selling four pelvic mesh devices, including Gynecare TVT Secur, Gynecare Prosima, Gynecare Prolift and Gynecare Prolift+M. The company attributed its decision to commercial concerns and maintained that the products were safe. However, the FDA had recently ordered Ethicon and 20 other vaginal mesh manufacturers to conduct further research into the risks associated with their implants.