Jury Awards Transvaginal Mesh Plaintiff $3.35 Million

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Ennis & Ennis, P.A. explains the results of the first lawsuit tried against Ethicon for the Prolift transvaginal mesh device.

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"This verdict validates our beliefs that the manufacturers of these devices were negligent and the injuries to females are catastrophic, which was reflected by this verdict," said attorney Holly Ennis.

After five days of deliberation, a New Jersey jury awarded Ms. Linda Gross and her husband $3.35 million dollars for damages caused by the Prolift, a transvaginal mesh device used to treat Pelvic Organ Prolapse in women reports Bloomberg. The Prolift, manufactured by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson was one of the first transvaginal mesh products aggressively promoted to women as an “innovative” device in women’s’ health care. A panel of nine jurors in state court in Atlantic City found that Linda Gross was entitled the award based upon her injuries, which resulted in 18 surgeries. The jurors had to consider whether the Prolift was defectively designed, whether J&J failed to provide adequate warnings to Gross and her surgeon and whether J&J made fraudulent misrepresentations to Gross. If the answer to any of these questions was yes, the jury had to determine whether this was the proximate cause of Gross’ injuries. The jurors were then allowed to consider damages for Ms. Gross’ pain, suffering, lost wages and medical expenses, as well as the loss of companionship and conjugal affections for her husband, Jeff. Ms. Gross asked for $3.38 million for lost earnings and past and future medical expenses as well as damages for pain and suffering.

According to court documents, Gross, who worked as a nurse in South Dakota, had her Prolift implanted on July 13, 2006 to stabilize pelvic muscles. The Prolift, made of polypropylene mesh, was inserted through an incision in the vagina. Gross claims that Ethicon failed to warn doctors of known risks and didn’t advise doctors how to remove the mesh if necessary. As a result, Gross was forced to undergo over 400 medical encounters, including office visits, surgeries and physical therapy. Ms. Gross and her experts testified regarding the tissue and nerve damage she sustained, the pain she experiences daily and the numerous medications she must take to cope with her severe issues.

Plaintiffs’ experts also testified regarding the significant problems with the Prolift from a design and safety standpoint. According to the experts, the Prolift is defectively designed. To implant the Prolift, a surgeon must use metal hook-like tools called trocars to “tunnel” the mesh through the skin, nerves and tissue causing damage. Once implanted, the body reacts to the foreign substance and the mesh undergoes a “shrinkage” effect, which may lead to tissue, nerve and organ damage. One expert noted that the Prolift is one of “the worsts of the worst” of this generation of devices, as it consists of a larger, heavier mesh with a smaller pore size, thereby exacerbating the damage, said court documents. In September 2011, the FDA ordered manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products to perform post-market studies to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of their products. Rather than conduct these studies, Ethicon withdrew the Prolift and other devices from the market. Although the Prolift and other dangerous devices are no longer being sold, they have already been implanted in thousands of women nationwide.

By a 7-2 vote, the jurors decided there was a failure to provide an adequate warning to the implanting surgeon and that the Prolift was a proximate cause of injury to Ms. Gross. The jurors decided 7-2 there was no fraudulent misrepresentation to Dr. Benson, however, there was a fraudulent misrepresentation to Ms. Gross, which was a proximate cause of her injuries. The jurors awarded Ms. Gross monetary damages in several ways. They awarded her $1.1 million dollars for her past pain and future pain and suffering, disability and loss of enjoyment of life, $180,000 for past lost wages, $500,00 for future lost wages, $385,000 in past medical services, $1 million for future medical treatment and household services and $185,000 to Jeff Gross for loss of the companionship of his wife. The verdict, by a panel of six women and three men, followed a six-week trial before Judge Carol Higbee. The judge was expected to decide later today whether to allow a hearing on punitive damages reported NBC news.

Ennis & Ennis, P.A. continues to offer free, nationwide, confidential consultations to anyone who was injured by a transvaginal mesh device including, but not limited to Ethicon’s’ Prolift, Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle and Uphold, American Medical Systems’ Elevate, Apogee and Perigee, C.R. Bard’s Avaulta and Pelvilace products, Caldera Medical’s Ascend, and other products manufactured by Mentor and Tyco Covidien by calling toll free 1-800-856-6405 or by going to http://www.ennislaw.com and completing an online case evaluation form.

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Attorney David Ennis