Johnson & Johnson destroyed perhaps hundreds of thousands of pages of documents as well as computer hard drives after the company was notified that it needed to preserve them for ongoing TransVaginal Mesh Litigation.
A consumer group, Corporate Action Network (CAN) has now responded to the company’s illegal destruction by asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to launch an investigation into J & J’s “disappearing” the documents.
On March 26, 2014, CAN asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Johnson & Johnson. The group also announced that it had launched a new website – www.JohnsonAndJohnsonHurtsWomen.org – to show what the group calls a “Pattern of Defective Medical Implants and Harmful Consumer Products.”
The web site MeshMedicalNewsDesk reports that there are some 22,000 lawsuits filed in two courts naming J&J products, specifically its subsidiaries Ethicon and Gynecare, J & J’s women’s health divisions which produced the pelvic mesh material and products now the subject of litigation across the country.
A lawsuit in the federal multidistrict litigation court (MDL) set up in West Virginia last year concluded that the plastic polypropylene mesh – the same as that used in Ethicon’s products – was defective. (Cisson v. C.R. Bard.)
Mesh Medical News Desk also reports that CAN wants J & J’s top executives, including Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky, to be investigated for criminal violations in the destruction of the documents which CAN said are critical to lawsuits brought by thousands of women who have reported being injured by the company’s plastic mesh products.
J&J did not respond to a request from the Mesh News Desk for a comment.
CAN spokeswoman Levana Layendecker said, “The real war on women isn’t being fought in Congress or on political talk shows. It’s taking place in executive boardrooms, where corporate profits are prioritized over women’s health. DOJ should immediately investigate whether Johnson & Johnson deliberately destroyed evidence that would have undercut its defense in the lawsuits over pelvic mesh.”
CAN asked Holder to investigate J & J and Gorsky for two possible criminal violations: 1. obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses; 2. destruction of records in a federal probe.
CAN’s request comes on the heels of West Virginia U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Eifert’s conclusion on Feb. 4, 2014 that J & J improperly destroyed thousands of documents regarding the development of pelvic mesh implants. (Carolyn Lewis Doc PTO#100 Doc #1069 Eifert Ruling. February 4, 2014.)
J & J has now entered into a Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. This requires the company, in part, to report any suspected violations of health care program or FDA requirements, and the company must also report its own policies and procedures. J & J also entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with DOJ in which it agreed to “voluntarily and timely” disclose its own misconduct. It does not appear that J & J disclosed its document destruction.
Executive Director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Melanie Sloan, said:
“It defies credibility to believe that a company facing as many lawsuits as Johnson and Johnson is over its defective product inadvertently destroyed thousands of relevant documents and computer files. DOJ should investigate immediately to make clear rich multi-national corporations are not above the law.”
Mesh News Desk previously reported on documents lost in the destruction. Destroyed files include hard drives of corporate executives in charge of the launch of the pelvic mesh products.