Mesh Trial Verdict: Atlantic City Jury Awards Plaintiff $11.1 Million
The second phase of the vaginal mesh trial Gross v. Ethicon resulted in significant punitive damages against defendant Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon unit. An Atlantic City jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay punitive damages of $7.76 million to plaintiff, Linda Gross, who blames the Prolift surgical mesh for making her life a “living hell,” despite 18 corrective surgeries. The recent jury verdict adds to the $3.35 million in compensatory damages already awarded, for a total of $11.1 million as compensation for transvaginal mesh complications. A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson stated the company will vigorously pursue an appeal.
The vaginal mesh lawsuit, which took place in the Atlantic City Supreme Court of New Jersey, was brought by Linda Gross in November 2008. The plaintiff alleged that the Gynecare Prolift mesh was not safe, and that after being implanted with the device in 2006 to treat her pelvic organ prolapse (POP), she suffered severe complications that plague her to this day.
Vaginal mesh lawsuit plaintiff awarded $11.1 million in damages
According to plaintiff counsel, the jury did not determine design defect for the vaginal mesh, but found that the defendant had failed to warn Gross’ surgeon about the risks of mesh complications, and that there was a fraudulent misrepresentation of the procedure in patient brochures. After the jury verdict was handed down, Gross’s attorney stated “Linda Gross cannot turn back the clock and make her misery and pain disappear.” He also said jurors decided that Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary “should be severely punished financially.”
Ethicon marketed the Prolift vaginal mesh from 2005 until August of 2012, when it voluntarily withdrew the product in light of growing litigation. This was the first vaginal mesh lawsuit to go to trial, with some 2,100 cases still pending against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey state court. While the punitive damages award will be appealed, this jury verdict should have a huge impact on the thousands of claims against other manufacturers of vaginal mesh products.
Thousands seek compensation for transvaginal mesh complications
During the seven-week long vaginal mesh trial, Gross testified on the subject of her complications, which began when the Prolift device hardened inside her body. Like other plaintiffs who’ve file claims against vaginal mesh manufacturers, Gross experienced mesh erosion, the formation of scar tissue and compromise to internal structures. Additionally, the former hospice nurse, who is only 47-years old, now has difficulty standing, sitting or walking for extended periods of time, is in chronic pain and must urinate frequently – as often as every 15 minutes. The plaintiff has been diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, anxiety disorder as well as major depression – and expert witnesses gave sworn testimony as to the psychological trauma that Gross now lives with, in addition to intimacy issues with her husband.
Gross also testified that the Gynecare Prolift patient brochure stated the device was “clinically proven” and that risks were “rare.” She told jurors that she was never told or made aware that there was no proven method to remove the vaginal mesh in the event of complications. This jury verdict may give hope to the other 4,000 women who have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, and are still suffering from painful side effects.
- Reuters, (February 28, 2013) Jury awards woman $7.76 million punitive damages for J&J mesh, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/us-johhnsonandjohnson-award-mesh-idUSBRE91R14P20130228
- Tri City Herald, (February 28, 2013) Jury adds $7.8 million in J&J punitive damages, http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2013/02/28/2293064/jury-adds-78-million-in-jj-punitive.html