NJ Jury Awards $3.35 Million to Plaintiff in Vaginal Mesh Trial

Ava Lawson | February 27th, 2013

Vaginal Mesh LawsuitAn Atlantic County jury ruled that Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary failed to adequately warn of potential vaginal mesh complications and made fraudulent misrepresentations regarding its Prolift mesh to a South Dakota plaintiff, Linda Gross. Following a six-week trial in New Jersey Superior Court, jurors rendered a $3.35 million verdict to 47 year-old Linda Gross for debilitating injuries she suffered from the Prolift device. The vaginal mesh trial is set to begin a second phase in which jurors will also consider punitive damages. According to Gross’ lawyers, punitive damages of up to five times the compensatory damage amount are permitted under New Jersey law.

This noteworthy vaginal mesh lawsuit verdict is the first of some 4,000 cases in which plaintiffs allege serious injuries from Johnson and Johnson’s mesh products. Nearly 2,100 of these lawsuits are pending in New Jersey state court. “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.” said Gross’ transvaginal mesh lawyer in an interview.

$3.35 million verdict handed to plaintiff in vaginal mesh lawsuit

The Gross v Ethicon case is a bellwether trial in the consolidated litigation proceeding in the New Jersey Superior Court before Judge Carol E. Higbee. After hearing compelling testimony from both sides, the jury deliberated for five days before handing down its verdict. Linda Gross, a former hospice nurse who resides in South Dakota, sued Ethicon – a unit of Johnson & Johnson – for debilitating injuries she sustained from its Prolift mesh, which she had implanted in 2005 to treat her pelvic organ prolapse (POP).  Ethicon voluntarily withdrew this same device from the market in August 2012 amid mounting litigation.

During the trial, Gross gave sworn testimony of her constant hardships since receiving the Prolift mesh in 2005. Gross has endured 18 painful surgeries to help correct the complications from the Prolift since it was first implanted. She testified that she is in constant pain and is on 20 different medications to help address her chronic pelvic problems from the device, which hardened inside her body. Gross’ transvaginal mesh lawyer argued that internal company documents showed that the defendant knew the mesh could cause pain and harm women.

Ethicon forced to pay compensatory damages for failure to warn

Gross labeled the verdict “a resounding victory” for both her and the thousands of other injured women who are suing Prolift’s manufacturer. The plaintiff told jurors that since receiving the mesh implant, her life has been a “living hell,” with 18 unsuccessful repair surgeries and more than 400 doctor visits. The jury rejected the charge of defective design in the vaginal mesh lawsuit, and stated that the defendant is guilty of failing to warn the surgeon who implanted Mrs. Gross’ vaginal mesh.

Made of polypropylene, the Prolift device was implanted via transvaginal surgery to address POP. Johnson and Johnson, who is headquartered in New Brunswick, N.J., stated that it intends to stop worldwide sales of the device because the mesh implants lacked commercial practicality, not because of their safety. Gross’ legal team countered that her unending pain and other complications were risks Ethicon were aware of before marketing the Prolift in 2005.  Gross told jurors “I am fearful of dying because this pain is so bad” during the trial. Her alleged vaginal mesh complications included mesh erosion, scar tissue formation, inflammation, and neurologic compromise to tissue and internal structures.

  1. Miami Herald, (February 25, 2013) NJ Jury Awards Woman 3.35 Million in J&J Implant Suit, http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/25/3253394/nj-jury-awards-woman-335-m-in.html

  2. Press of Atlantic City, (February 25, 2013) Atlantic County Jury Awards $3.35 Million in Suit, http://m.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/breaking/atlantic-county-jury-awards-woman-million-in-suit-against-johnson/article_e5b6e0f4-7f7a-11e2-b897-001a4bcf887a.html?mode=jqm