A federal jury in West Virginia ordered Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson to pay $3.27 million in damages to a woman who said she suffered permanent injuries from a mesh implant manufactured by the company’s device unit.
The verdict was a victory for plaintiff Jo Huskey and could bode well for more than 30,000 other women who also filed suit against J&J’s Ethicon unit after suffering from vaginal mesh injuries such as erosion, hemorrhaging, painful sex and organ damage.
“We are pleased the jury understood innocent people should not be suffering because of Ethicon’s negligence,” Huskey’s attorney, Fidelma Fitzpatrick, told Bloomberg.
Other women like Estelle Tasz who were injured by J&J’s mesh products rejoiced when news of the verdict reached them. It was an emotional moment for many other women who also suffered complications and filed lawsuits.
“I think the verdict meant so many things but especially that mesh injured women are being heard,” Tasz told Drugwatch. “Although [we are] being compensated with a monetary value put on [our injuries], no amount of money can buy what we have all lost. When I was told of the win, I cried not only for Mrs. Huskey but for every one of us waking up still mesh injured but with more hope.”
The verdict is the latest of three million-dollar judgments against the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company related to its mesh implants.
In April, a Texas state jury also against J&J liable for the same product. Linda Batiste left state court with a $1.2 million jury award after filing suit for injuries she says were caused by the TVT-O sling.
Before that, a New Jersey jury awarded more than $11 million dollars to Linda Gross, who had 18 surgeries to try and fix complications after the Gynecare Prolift that doctors implanted caused severe internal damage.
Gross’ verdict included $7.76 million in punitive damages after the jury found J&J guilty of wanton and willful disregard.
J&J maintains the Gynecare TVT-O mesh implant used by Huskey is not defective.
“Ethicon’s TVT-O 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 in a statement after the Huskey verdict.
Mesh Implants Caused Injuries
Husky’s doctors implanted a J&J Ethicon Gynecare TVT Obturator (TVT-O) sling to treat incontinence in 2011. In 2012, the 52-year-old and her husband sued J&J after she suffered a number of complications, including debilitating pelvic pain.
“These cases are extremely serious. These women are very seriously injured from these products,” attorney Fitzpatrick told Reuters.
Unlike other manufacturers, J&J refused to enter into settlement talks to resolve the tens of thousands of suits, with more still being filed. This latest verdict will serve to provide more information for both sides to fine tune their litigation approach as the court battles continue.
Other Mesh Manufacturers Also Face Litigation
J&J is not the only mesh manufacturer faced with paying substantial amounts to women injured by the implants. Federal lawsuits consolidated in West Virginia courts alone total more than 60,000.
Other major companies like C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific and American Medical Systems already paid millions in settlements and trial verdicts.
J&J said it intends to appeal the Huskey verdict. It had no comment about entering into settlement talks to resolve the remaining 30,000 claims.