A Philadelphia jury has ordered global healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $80 million in compensation to a Pennsylvania woman injured due to a transvaginal mesh implant. After two days of deliberation, the jury concluded that Ethicon’s Prolift vaginal mesh is defective. Ethicon is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary Must Pay $80M To Mesh-Injured Woman
This is the latest in a string of jury verdicts rendered over the risks of transvaginal mesh, a type of medical device used in the repair of pelvic organ prolapse, or POP. In court documents, 75-year-old Patricia Mesigian told the harrowing story of what happened after she was implanted with Ethicon’s Prolift mesh in 2008. Mesigian claims the mesh began to erode soon after implantation, leading to severe pelvic pain, inflammation and the development of scar tissue.
The $80 million verdict, which includes $50 million in punitive damages, is meant to compensate Mesigian for the suffering she endured at the hands of the Prolift mesh. The compensation is also designed to reimburse the plaintiff for multiple medical procedures; according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mesigian underwent “a series of follow-up surgeries,” but none proved successful. In her lawsuit, Mesigian accused Ethicon of failing to warn patients about these substantial risks. The Philadelphia jury agreed, ruling that Ethicon had been negligent in drafting patient warnings about the product.
Largest Transvaginal Mesh Award In US History
Thomas R. Kline, Mesigian’s attorney, says the $80 million award is the largest compensatory verdict for a victim of transvaginal mesh in American history. “This jury resoundingly found that Johnson & Johnson terribly injured another one of thousands of women implanted with its defective transvaginal mesh device, recognizing not only the severity of the injury but the abhorrence of the conduct,” Kline said in a statement emailed to reporters.
J&J Loses Two Consecutive Trials
Even before the $80 million verdict, Johnson & Johnson was already in hot water. In April 2019, a second jury for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ordered the company to pay an Altoona woman $120 million in damages. The woman had her mesh implanted to treat incontinence. Johnson & Johnson has already announced its plans to appeal both verdicts. In a statement, Ethicon spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley criticized the jury verdict, saying, “while Ethicon empathizes with women who experience medical complications, this verdict and the damages awarded are inconsistent with the science and Ethicon’s actions. The jury was not permitted to hear critical evidence related to the FDA’s review and classification of these devices, which we believe significantly influenced the verdict and punitive award in the case.”
Mesh Under Fire From American Regulators
Transvaginal mesh has already led to a flashpoint in American medical history. Mesh products designed for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which weakened pelvic muscles allow organs to fall below their normal position, have resulted in tens of thousands of product liability lawsuits against a number of medical device manufacturers. Transvaginal mesh now represents one of the largest mass torts in US legal history.
And it appears that regulators are finally taking the hint. In a major decision announced in July 2019, the US Food & Drug Administration revoked the certifications for two pelvic mesh products. These products, which can no longer be sold in the United States, were the last remaining pelvic mesh products on the market. By removing the last two remaining pelvic mesh products from the American market, the FDA has made it effectively impossible to acquire the products.
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