A jury in Dallas has awarded $1.2 million against a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary after finding that its pelvic mesh sling was defectively designed.
Thursday’s verdict, in which the state court jury declined to award punitive damages, also found that the subsidiary, Ethicon, adequately warned of the risks associated with the TVT-O device.
“We believe the evidence showed Ethicon’s TVT-O pelvic mesh was properly designed and that Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product,” Ethicon spokesman Matthew Johnson said in a prepared statement. “The jury’s verdict on design defect is disappointing, and we believe we have strong grounds for appeal.”
Tim Goss, both principals of Freese & Goss in Dallas, who represented the plaintiff, 64-year-old Linda Batiste, praised the verdict, though he was seeking $4 million in damages. He said the device eroded, causing Batiste pain and an inability to have sexual intercourse.
“It’s problematic for Johnson & Johnson because they found that the design was defective,” he said. “They can always change their warnings, but for them to have a defective design — that’s a big issue for them.”
The verdict is the first among an estimated 40,000 lawsuits across the country to involve a bladder sling that is surgically implanted in women to treat urinary incontinence, said P. Leigh O’Dell, a member of several plaintiffs steering committees spearheading most of the mesh suits, which have been coordinated in Charleston, W.V.
“When you think of the number of women who were implanted with a bladder sling from various manufacturers — and that number exceeds more than 1 million women — the significant injuries caused by the defect and the jury’s verdict in this case are very important,” said O’Dell, a shareholder at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery. “It shows the plaintiffs have developed a case and evidence that can be used to try these cases around the country and be successful.”
Last year, a jury in New Jersey’s state court awarded more than $11 million to a woman in South Dakota who underwent 18 operations in six years following implantation of a different Ethicon device. On February 19, U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia tossed out the first federal bellwether case to go to trial against Ethicon over a separate TVT device.
The next federal bellwether case against Ethicon is scheduled for June 23. O’Dell said it will involve the same sling at issue in the Texas trial.