June 14, 2021

Trial opens in pelvic mesh test case

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Ethicon-MeshBy Amanda Bronstad, From The National Law Journal

Trial began on Monday [Jan26] in Bakersfield, Calif., in the first test case over an Ethicon Inc. pelvic mesh sling, one of dozens of such devices named in thousands of lawsuits across the country.

Ethicon’s parent company, Johnson & Johnson, which has lost verdicts over its other mesh products, is one of half a dozen manufacturers facing 60,000 lawsuits alleging that the devices, which are implanted in women, are defective.

It’s not the first time a Bakersfield jury has heard about mesh devices. In 2012, a different jury in that court awarded $5.5 million in the first trial over a pelvic mesh device. That verdict, upheld by a California appellate court last year, was against C.R. Bard Inc.

In the current case, which involves Ethicon’s TVT-Abbrevo pelvic mesh sling, Coleen Perry, then in her 40s, had the device implanted in 2011 for treatment of stress urinary incontinence— a loss of urine during physical movement or activity. But the next year, she underwent surgery to remove the device after suffering from pain and continued urinary problems.

“She expected that when she had the implant, it would be safe and tested. She expected the doctor would be told fully about the dangers of the product,” said Tom Cartmell, a partner at Wagstaff & Cartmell in Kansas City, Mo., in opening statements recorded by Courtroom View Network. “We believe the evidence in this case will show that, in fact, the product was not reliably tested before it was sold and, in fact, her doctor wasn’t told the full truth about the dangers of the product.”

Most of the lawsuits over pelvic mesh devices, including those against Ethicon, are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Several more have been filed in state courts across the country, including Perry’s case, which was filed in 2013 in Kern County, Calif., Superior Court.

Ethicon attorney Kim Schmid, executive managing partner in the Minneapolis office of Bowman and Brooke, told the jury that Perry’s prior medical condition had more to do with her injuries.

“Mrs. Perry had a total of eight different medical procedures all in her pelvic region within a span of just nine months,” she said in her opening statement, also recorded by Courtroom View Network. “The evidence will be that these other surgeries carried the same known risks and complications as the implantation of the TVT Abbrevo.”

Cartmell is handling Perry’s trial with Richard Freese and Tim Goss, principals of Freese & Goss; Peter de la Cerda of Edwards & de la Cerda in Dallas; and Stewart Albertson, founding partner of Albertson & Davidson in Ontario, Calif. Cartmell is co-lead counsel of the plaintiffs steering committee in the federal litigation; the first trial in that docket ended on Sept. 5 when a jury in Charleston, W.V., awarded $3.27 million against Ethicon.

Ethicon goes to trial a second time in federal court on March 2.

Cartmell also teamed with Freese & Goss, based in Dallas, in the first trial involving Ethicon’s TVT-O device. On April 3, a state court jury in Dallas awarded $1.2 million in damages.

De la Cerda said the Perry trial, which is expected to last about a month, addresses one of Ethicon’s newest products.

“If we beat them on this one, not even their supposedly more improved product will go before a jury,” he said.

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

For more: http://www.nationallawjournal.com/id=1202716286653/Trial-Opens-in-Pelvic-Mesh-Test-Case#ixzz3Q87KbuA7


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