Insurance Litigation

J&J Finally Wins a Transvaginal Mesh Trial in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has not been a good trial venue for Johnson & Johnson, maker of many types of transvaginal and hernia meshes.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has been the venue for a string of unsuccessful product liability cases for Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon division that makes the meshes.

After losing its first transvaginal mesh trial there in December 2015, in the case of Patricia Hammonds, the Philadelphia jury awarded her $12.5 million. That included $7 million in punitive damages.

The next month, it was the case of Sharon Carlino, who was implanted with a TVT (tension-free tape). Jurors didn’t like what they heard there either and awarded Ms. Carlino $13.5 million which included $10 million in punitive damages.

This did nothing to slow down the healthcare giant, which has more product liability cases consolidated in federal court in West Virginia, Philadelphia, and New Jersey, than any of the six other manufacturers – approximately 55-thousand.

Again, it faced off with another mesh-injured plaintiff in Philadelphia.

Peggy Engleman had been implanted with a TVT-Secur, a single-incision tape to treat incontinence. By April 2017, the jury again returned a verdict for the plaintiff of $20 million, which included $17.5 million in punitive damages.

So in those three cases alone, the jury had sent a clear and convincing message to Johnson & Johnson which included $34.5 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for its behavior.

Apparently J&J didn’t accept that punishment because instead of settling, it took on another case, this one of Sharon Beltz, who had been implanted with the Prolift, a larger mesh intended to shore up pelvic organs that fall due to gravity.

The trial ended in May 2017 with a $2.1 million verdict for Ms. Beltz.

In each of these trials, the meshes were found defective, which would be a good basis for reaching a mass settlement. But J&J didn’t do that.

Finally, the fifth attempt in court was the charm for Johnson & Johnson.

In June, the case of Kimberly Adkins resulted in a mixed verdict.

Jurors decided the TVT-Secur tape implanted in her was defective as were the warnings to her doctor.

But, the defective mesh was not the cause of her injuries, in other words, causation was not proven to the jurors’satisfaction and they did not award her any compensatory damages.

There are about 180 more pelvic mesh trials pending in the Philadelphia Court to be presented to jurors.

J&J keeps fighting the jurors’ will.

The company has exhausted the appeals on its first pelvic mesh trial. Linda Gross was awarded $11.1 million and J&J has appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court which refused to hear it.

Now J&J is trying to take the case of Jo Huskey to the U.S. Supreme Court as well. Huskey was implanted with a TVT-Obturator pelvic mesh to treat her incontinence. It too was found defectively designed in federal court in West Virginia, but the pelvic mesh remains on the market.

At trial, jurors heard of the permanent injuries to the one-time athlete.

She was awarded $3.27 million including loss of consortium compensation to her husband.

J&J has also exhausted its appeals in the Huskey case and will file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as a last-ditch attempt to overturn her jury award for pain and suffering.

At some time, the company which brags its mandate is “sustainability” will have to explain this behavior, unsustainable to the company’s bottom line.



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