In what is certain to be a landmark decision, a Missouri jury has awarded the son of an African-American woman, and the woman’s estate, a total of $72 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson. Of the $72 million in damages, $10 million are compensatory damages going to the son and $62 million in punitive damages to the estate. The successful plaintiff’s lead attorney, Jim Onder said after the verdict that $31 million of the compensation will go to the Missouri Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
Yesterday, a Philadelphia jury ruled Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay an injured woman $5.5 million in compensatory damages for its negligence over the defectively designed Prolift pelvic mesh. Today, the jury also awarded her $7 million in punitive damages – a sum intended to punish Johnson & Johnson for having marketed an unsafe product.
This was the second product liability trial involving Prolift mesh, one of the most widely used pelvic meshes produced. The first Prolift trial of Linda Gross in 2013 resulted in a $11.1 million ruling for Ms. Gross but did not find the mesh was defective in its design. That verdict is still under appeal.
Johnson & Johnson, a health-care company based in New Jersey, has been ordered to pay $1.2 million to Linda Batiste after a Texas jury ruled that its TVT-O mesh sling had a faulty design.
Produced by Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, the TVT-O vaginal mesh insert eroded in 64-year-old plaintiff, causing pelvic pain from infection and nerve damage. J&J faces over 12,000 mesh lawsuits – most of which are being heard by a federal judge in West Virginia.
Previously, advocacy group Corporate Action Network had petitioned Attorney General Eric Holder to look into allegations that J&J had tampered with evidence. They accused the company of destroying records that indicated research volunteers were injured during the testing of the product.
Johnson and Johnson, one of the largest names in healthcare, is currently the defendant in a class action lawsuit from women who claim they were injured by the company’s product. Corporate Action Network, an advocacy group that investigates corporate activities, has asked the federal government to investigate what they claim is evidence tampering by the corporation.
Pelvic mesh implants are used to support internal organs that have started to sag in women. The condition is common among older women, and those who have given birth to children. The implants have been the cause of tens of thousands of injuries, according plaintiffs in the case.
“Evidence we’ve presented at trial showed they knew these implants would cause complications and they just didn’t care. Many women are now disabled and they can’t leave their beds, they’re in so much pain. Women have killed themselves because the pain eclipses childbirth pain, it’s that bad,” Jane Akre, founder of an online group for victims, said.
Attorneys for Bard, Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., Coloplast A/S and Cook Medical, Inc., all manufacturers of transvaginal mesh implants, are in settlement talks over literally thousands of lawsuits, say sources familiar with the cases. Transvaginal mesh is used to support women’s pelvic muscles during stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) surgeries. Plaintiffs allege to have experienced severe emotional and physical damage from these implants after surgery . Johnson & Johnson is also facing countless lawsuits but isn’t involved in these talks, according to sources.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are requesting that U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin (the judge overseeing these federal lawsuits) appoint a settlement committee. The talks are designed to resolve over 30,000 suits that have been consolidated for pre-trial information exchanges. The number of suits may rise to as many as 50,000 as more women seek to participate in what could be a multi-billion dollar settlement.
Some manufacturers such as Bard and Endo have already settled lawsuits over these implants. In fact, earlier this year, Endo officials paid $54.5 million in settlements over their defective devices.
There are up to 11,500 lawsuits pending in the United States against the corporate giant, and to resolve them, it may pay more than $300,000 per case. If these plaintiffs accept their offers, the total amount would exceed $3 billion, which would top the $1 billion paid in 2001 by Suizer AG, a Switzerland-based pump maker, to resolve lawsuits from patients who claimed the company’s hip and knee implants were defective. This was the largest settlement of its kind, so if J&J follows through, its settlement will be a record-breaker.
Johnson & Johnson wants the U.S. cases resolved by early 2014, according to undisclosed sources. In 2010, J&J’s DePuy unit recalled 93,000 implants with 37,000 of those being in the U.S.
Transvaginal mesh implants used in surgery – not a fun subject by any means. But worst of all, these implants have been a living hell for the women who suffered the horrible symptoms associated with them.
Yesterday an Atlantic City, New Jersey jury awarded $3.35 million to Linda Gross. The Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Ethicon, must pay this substantial amount in what is the first of 2,100 lawsuits over the transvaginal mesh implant. Now, punitive damages in this case may amount to as much as $16.75 million.
Apparently, the South Dakota woman’s surgeon wasn’t warned of the dangers associated with its Gynecare Prolift transvaginal mesh implant. What’s more, it is claimed that Ethicon misled her. Linda Gross, a 47-year-old nurse was experiencing constant pain and 18 operations after the device was implanted. So along with her husband, she sued Ethicon. According to Gross’s attorney Adam Slater, “This verdict establishes that Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon failed to tell physicians and women the truth about the catastrophic complications that can result from the Prolift.”