ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey–A New Jersey Superior Court jury passed a verdict Monday in favor of a South Dakota woman who sought damages from Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary company Ethicon for serious injuries she allegedly received from a transvaginal mesh device those companies produced. The jury said that the plaintiff should receive $3.35 million.
Linda Gross, 47, of Watertown, South Dakota, was implanted with Ethicon’s Gynecare Prolift mesh device in 2006 to correct pelvic prolapse, a condition in which weakened pelvic muscles allow the pelvic organs to drop out of place. Her surgeon used the mesh device to shore up the lower organs and keep them in position.
But instead of fixing the problem, Ms. Gross alleged that the mesh device tore into her tissue, causing debilitating pain that wouldn’t allow to her to stay active or sit for more than a few minutes at a time. She also alleged the device caused inflammation and scar tissue, and had eroded through her vaginal wall, thereby posing a risk of injury to her husband during intercourse.
She has also undergone 18 surgeries to have the mesh removed, but none of them have returned her body and life to normal. Eventually Ms. Gross had to quit her job as a nurse.
Ms. Gross’s lawsuit says the Gynecare Prolift mesh is a dangerous product and that Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon should be held accountable for its defective design, manufacture, warnings, and instructions. The lawsuit also accuses both companies of misrepresenting the device in its promotional materials. Johnson & Johnson announced last June that it would stop making and selling transvaginal mesh products.
The lawsuit brought by Ms. Gross is the first of some 1,800 transvaginal mesh lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon pending in Johnson & Johnson’s home state of New Jersey. Several other manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products are being sued by women who were implanted with the mesh to repair pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence, only to experience painful and often crippling complications.
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits filed in federal courts against Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, C.R. Bard, and Coloplast have been consolidated for multidistrict litigation under Judge Joseph Goodwin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The first of those trials is expected to start December 3, 2013.