Jury Awards Transvaginal Mesh Plaintiff $11.1 Million Against J&J

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Ennis & Ennis, P.A. explains the compensatory and punitive damage awards against Johnson & Johnson in the first transvaginal mesh trial.

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A New Jersey jury has awarded Plaintiff, Linda Gross $11.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiary, Ethicon for their conduct in failing to warn of the dangers associated with their transvaginal mesh product, the Prolift. 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 award was comprised of $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.6 million in punitive damages according to Reuters. The case is Gross v. Gynecare, Inc., Atl-L-6966-10,Superior Court of Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Atlantic City).

        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.

    Court documents show that Plaintiffs’ experts 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 exacerbation the damage. 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.

The jurors awarded Ms. Gross monetary damages in several categories according to the verdict form. 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 jury also awarded plaintiffs $ 7.6 million in punitive damages. The jurors made this award to punish J&J, the world’s largest seller of healthcare products, for its conduct. This trial is the first of 4,000 lawsuits to go to trial regarding J&J’s pelvic mesh product.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports there are various complications associated with the transvaginal mesh including: mesh eroding through the vagina, urinary problems, organ perforation, bleeding, infection and pain. The FDA noted that adverse events caused by the transvaginal mesh are “not rare” and that use of such devices may be more harmful than other methods of treating pelvic organ prolapse.FDA

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