Johnson & Johnson has lost four jury verdicts so far – from $1.2 million to $11 million – and still faces some 30,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts over its Ethicon pelvic mesh products. Nevertheless, the Big Pharma giant has resisted most attempts to bring it to the settlement table, though it did quietly make one settlement with four women, one who charged in Missouri state court that Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon failed to warn her doctors and her of the problems of plastic mesh, and in turn caused her lifelong pain and other damages.
Johnson & Johnson’s Four Lost Verdicts*
• Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a California jury to pay a woman $5.7 million in Bakersfield, Calif. in the first week of March, 2015.
• In April 2014, a Dallas jury of 12 ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a Texas woman $1.2 million for injuries she suffered after being implanted with an Ethicon mesh sling for stress urinary incontinence.
• In Sept. 2014, a federal jury in West Virginia awarded $3.27 million to Jo Husky, who said Ethicon failed to warn her of the problem’s of Gynecare TVT mesh, which her suit charged caused her permanent injuries.
• In 2013, a New Jersey jury awarded $11 million in a verdict which said Johnson’s Ethicon was responsible for injuries caused by Johnson & Johnson’s Gynecare Prolift mesh, which has since been recalled from the market.
*Update: The verdicts are all on appeal; so no recovery has been made despite the verdicts.
Ethicon can’t defend Latest Mesh Product
But the latest award – in which a jury of 12 awarded plaintiff Coleen Perry $700,000 in actual damages and $5 million in punitives after three days of deliberation following a two-month trial – poses a special new problem for Johnson & Johnson. The TVT-Abbrevo is the company’s latest pelvic mesh product, and appears to have the same problems as the meshes which the company pulled from the shelves two years ago. Despite Ethicon’s statement that the products were pulled purely for business (and not for safety) reasons, the timing of the market takedown followed closely on the heels of the FDA’s announcing that mesh products for pelvic organ prolapse needed long-term safety testing. It appears that the company cannot defend even its latest version of pelvic mesh.
Mesh Safety Studies in Doubt
In trial, Ethicon defense lawyers like to repeat that pelvic mesh is the most studied medical device in the world. A great number of studies have been conducted; but on closer inspection, virtually all the studies Ethicon has done with pelvic mesh have featured attrition rates of 40 percent or more. Many study participants drop out even before the first six months. There have been virtually no long-term safety studies in which a majority of participants remain active until the studies conclude.
J & J illegally destroyed Pelvic Mesh Studies
In federal mesh trials, Johnson & Johnson attorneys have so far successfully kept juries from seeing potentially incriminating evidence out of the corporation’s pelvic mesh document destruction. It remains to be seen whether J & J can continue to do so in continuing state and federal trials. Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson illegally destroyed thousands of documents concerning the safety (or dangers) of plastic mesh for a woman’s pelvic floor, destruction for which at least one federal judge admonished the company.
Meanwhile, this unregulated experiment on live human guinea pigs continues.