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Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit Update: J&J Pays Punitive Damages

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Dallas, TXDoctor Shezad Malik, an attorney specializing in transvaginal mesh product liability cases and a practicing cardiologist, says that the month-long jury trial against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary and its Prolift vaginal mesh implant came out with a $3.35 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and today Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay $7.76 million in punitive damages to the woman for injuries she blamed on the company’s vaginal-mesh device, a New Jersey jury ruled.

Jurors in Atlantic City made the award today to punish J&J, the world’s largest seller of healthcare products. The verdict came in the first of 4,000 lawsuits to go to trial over J&J’s pelvic mesh, including 2,100 in New Jersey.

Malik says that the $3.35 million compensatory damage verdict in favor of Linda Gross, the plaintiff, includes economic loss, pain and suffering, and more.

“Punitive damages are basically designed to punish a company for alleged gross negligence against the plaintiff,” Malik explains. “Under New Jersey state law, punitive damages are capped at five times the compensatory damages so they can potentially add another $16.5 million to the final tally. And the allegations are that J&J knew it sold a defective device despite knowing the risk of scar and pain, organ damage and perforation.”

During the six-week Prolift Mesh Injury trial ( Gross v. Gynecare Inc., Superior Court of Atlantic County, New Jersey, Atl-L-6966-10), the jury heard testimony from Linda Gross, a 47-year-old nurse from South Dakota. She filed a lawsuit alleging constant pain and suffering, and underwent 18 operations to attempt to fix and remove the transvaginal mesh device, which was supposed to treat pelvic organ prolapse (POP).

Gross was awarded compensatory damages after the jury found that J&J failed to warn her surgeon of the risks of its Gynecare Prolift implant and fraudulently misled her about the risks. This is the first trial involving 2,100 New Jersey lawsuits and about 2,000 cases nationwide in US District federal court, consolidated in West Virginia - all of which are over J&J’s vaginal mesh.

“Right now this trial is closely watched,” says Malik, “and there are several other significant transvaginal mesh manufacturers paying close attention, including Bard with its Avaulta product, AMS, and Boston Scientific.

“As for J&J’s financial situation, the company is worth $121 billion and has a net worth of about $65 billion. Last year it spent $21 billion on marketing and advertising alone, which translates to $57 million per day. This behemoth medical company spends $3.5 million on advertising every 45 minutes, which is the same sum that the jury awarded Linda Gross. So that amount is a drop in the bucket for J&J.”

Regardless, this huge medical giant should have known better. But wait, they did know better! As Malik says, they chose to put profits before people.

“The jury found against them and now the jury is going to punish them the only way they can, by their pocketbook,” Malik adds. “J&J will likely appeal but that will pave the way to a global settlement.”

Dr Malik further adds that it is still not too late to file a transvaginal mesh claim - against any of the TVM manufacturers mentioned above, including J&J.


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