Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $11 Million in First Vaginal Mesh Case

Transvaginal mesh lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm recently reported on a Gynecare Prolift plaintiff who won $3.35 million in compensatory damages in her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson. Jurors recently determined the punitive damage award to be $7.76 million.

The trial took place in Atlantic City, NJ, and was the first of more than 4,000 lawsuits over Johnson & Johnson’s pelvic mesh product, which is manufactured by the company’s Ethicon unit. The $11.1 million will go to plaintiff Linda Gross of South Dakota, a nurse who was forced to undergo nearly 20 operations due to the defects of the Gynecare Prolift, which was supposed to strengthen her pelvic muscles.

Instead of strengthening them, however, Gross has been living in constant pain for the past seven years, since she was implanted with the device in 2006. At the time of the initial procedure, she was told there were very few risks associated with the device, and that, if need be, it could be easily removed. 18 operations later, Gross maintains that, had she known about the actual risks of the Prolift, she never would have chosen to have the defective product implanted.

Unfortunately, this is also the case for thousands of other women who were misled and deceived by Johnson & Johnson. The Gynecare Prolift was taken off markets in 2012, along with similar products from more than 30 other companies. The FDA banned them after a study linking the transvaginal mesh products to significantly high rates of organ damage and other serious complications.

Four years prior to its banning, however, the FDA revealed that it received over 1,000 reports of serious transvaginal mesh complications. In 2011, the agency again warned there had been a five-fold increase in these complications reports since 2008. Other liable manufacturers include American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, and C.R. Bard. The C.R. Bard Avaulta mesh implant lawsuits are expected to begin in September 2013 in multi-district litigation. The first trial, which concluded in July 2012, ended with the jury awarding the Avaulta plaintiff and her spouse $5.5 million.

In late February 2013, the Atlantic City jury found that Johnson & Johnson was not only liable for the complications suffered by Gross, but that it failed to warn her surgeon of the risks and fraudulently misled them as well. The damages were meant to deter and discourage the healthcare giant from ever again engaging in this type of deception.

At trial, a forensic economics expert was called to testify about Johnson & Johnson’s finances. He stated that the company has assets in excess of $121 billion, with a net worth of nearly $65 billion. It’s advertising and marketing expenses alone totaled nearly $21 billion last year, which averages out to $57 million every single day.

Gross’s initial compensatory damages award was $3.35 million. The economics expert asserted that Johnson & Johnson spends this amount every 45 minutes, just on marketing and advertising. The company’s manager of financial reporting also testified that, in his analysis of Prolift sales between 2005 and 2012, the company earned $128 million, with a profit of $5.6 million, although this was speculated to be significantly underreported.

Pelvic mesh products from all manufacturers have been subject to growing litigation since the FDA’s first warning in 2008. Victims of these products’ side effects have experienced such complications as mesh erosion through vaginal tissue, infections, and repeated surgical interventions.

Transvaginal mesh lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm encourage women who were seriously injured by these defective products to consider filing a negligence lawsuit against the manufacturer. Victims may be entitled to significant compensation for any medical bills, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other injuries.

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