Jo Huskey had no idea the turn her life would take after having a 30-minute procedure to implant Ethicon’s transvaginal mesh device in her body to correct urinary incontinence. Plaintiffs attorneys and their witnesses painted a picture for jurors of how the defectively designed device could erode into tissue and puncture neighboring organs causing serious complications from excruciating pain and incontinence to bleeding and infections. The jury responded with a $3.27 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, finding the bladder sling was defectively designed and the company failed to warn the public of the potential risks.
The product liability trial was a so-called bellwether, a lawsuit pulled from a pool of thousands of similar cases to go to trial. The outcome of bellwether suits generally have an impact on settlement terms for other pending cases.
The Huskey verdict is the first time a federal court jury has found Ethicon’s TVT-O sling to be defective and the company liable for damages. In April, Ethicon was hit with a $1.2 million verdict in a Texas state court, the first TVT-O case to go to trial.
Ethicon had tried to skirt the charges, filing a motion for a judgment of law that evidence did not back up the plaintiff’s claims. The company says it will appeal the jury’s decision.
Thousands of other lawsuits against various manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products have been filed in recent years and some manufacturers have opted to settle lawsuits to avoid lengthy and expensive trials.
Transvaginal mesh, also referred to as vaginal mesh or bladder sling, is used to treat pelvic floor disorders such as stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.