August 5, 2021

$5.7M verdict against pelvic mesh maker in test case

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Pelvic-MeshBy Amanda Bronstad, From The National Law Journal

Johnson & Johnson lost a $5.7 million verdict on Thursday in the first test case over one of its newest pelvic mesh slings, which is among dozens of similar devices named in thousands of lawsuits across the country.

The verdict, by a jury in Bakersfield, Calif., is the latest to hit Johnson & Johnson, whose Ethicon Inc. subsidiary has lost verdicts over its other mesh devices. The trial, which began on Jan. 26, was the first over Ethicon’s TVT-Abbrevo device, which is used to treat urinary incontinence caused from sudden movements. The plaintiff, Coleen Perry, had alleged that she had pain and continued urinary problems after having the device implanted in 2011.

The jury, in Kern County, Calif., Superior Court, found that the device was defectively designed and that Ethicon failed to warn doctors of its problems, according to a recording of the verdict on Courtroom View Network. Jurors also awarded $700,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

Johnson & Johnson immediately said it planned to appeal.

“We have strong grounds for appeal as we believe the evidence showed that TVT Abbrevo midurethral sling was properly designed and Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product,” Ethicon spokesman Matthew Johnson said. “TVT Abbrevo has been deemed safe and effective by regulators and practitioners alike.”

Peter de la Cerda at Edwards & de la Cerda of Dallas, one of the lead plaintiffs attorneys in the case, said, “We could not be happier for Mrs. Perry.” He added, “The jury’s verdict shows thoughtfulness for the serious and life-altering injuries she sustained from the TVT Abbrevo. The jury’s verdict also sends a clear message to Ethicon Inc. and Johnson & Johnson—the concerned citizens of California will not stand for these manufacturers’ improper conduct in designing and marketing the TVT Abbrevo.”

Ethicon is one of seven manufacturers being sued over pelvic mesh devices. The verdict comes as Ethicon began trial on March 2 in a bellwether case from among more than 23,000 lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Ethicon lost the first trial in that docket on Sept. 5 when a jury in Charleston, West Virginia, awarded $3.27 million.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin dismissed the first bellwether case before trial ended for lack of evidence. On March 2, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that decision.

IMAGE: Johnson & Johnson headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J. AP / Mel Evans

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