In pain

A 12-member Philadelphia jury handed up a $20 million verdict—including $17.5 million in punitive damages—against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon in the third pelvic mesh case to go to trial in the city.

It was also the third multimillion-dollar plaintiff’s verdict from Philadelphia’s pelvic-mesh mass tort program.

The verdict in Ethicon v. Engleman, which also included $2.5 million in compensatory damages, was awarded Friday to a New Jersey woman who alleged she suffered life-altering injuries when the mesh eroded inside of her.

Plaintiff Margaret “Peggy” Engleman, of Cinnaminson, alleged in court papers that she had Ethicon’s TVT-Secur mesh implanted to help with her stress urinary incontinence, but her doctor discovered erosions in the material just two months later.

Engleman said in her pretrial memorandum that the eroding mesh began causing her pain and she was eventually forced to undergo three separate surgeries, under anesthesia, to remove the material. However, portions of the mesh remain in her body and she has developed chronic pain and urinary dysfunction, according to the memorandum.

Engleman alleged in court papers that TVT-Secur was “defective in design, warnings and instructions” and that Johnson & Johnson released the product to the public despite knowing that there was a significant risk that the mesh would erode inside patients.

Ethicon argued in its own pretrial memorandum that Engleman offered no evidence that the company “failed to warn of risks not within the common knowledge of pelvic floor surgeons.”

“Under New Jersey law, a manufacturer has no duty to warn of risks that are within the common knowledge of physicians,” the company said in its memorandum.

But Engleman’s attorney, Benjamin Anderson of Anderson Law Offices in Cleveland, said he thought the jury turned in his client’s favor when a former consultant for Johnson & Johnson learned for the first time, while being cross-examined, about an internal study circulated within the company warning of the dangers of pelvic mesh.

The jury ultimately agreed with the plaintiffs that TVT-Secur mesh was defective in design and that Ethicon failed to adequately warn of its risks.

A spokesman for Johnson & Johnson did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.