Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Ethicon Inc. was slapped with a $5.5 million verdict over claims that the company’s transvaginal mesh was defective and caused injuries to an Indiana woman. The case was the first among 180 in the mass tort program in Philadelphia to go to trial.
Plaintiff Patricia Hammons claimed Ethicon’s Prolift transvaginal mesh implant eroded inside her body, causing shards of mesh to embed into her bladder. The injury left her with dyspareunia, a condition in which sexual intercourse is painful or difficult. She claimed she was left feeling less of a woman and lives in fear of her boyfriend leaving her.
Hammons was implanted with the mesh in 2009 to support organs that had dropped, a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse that causes urinary incontinence, discomfort and other complications. Hammons’ attorneys argued that Ethicon had provided false data on the safety and effectiveness of the Prolift mesh, and Hammons’ doctor who performed the original surgery testified that if he had known in 2009 what he knows now of Ethicon’s Prolift, he would never have used it on his patient.
Several manufacturers of transvaginal mesh have faced lawsuits over claims of negligence and injuries, but Ethicon faces the largest number of federal transvaginal mesh lawsuits. In January, the company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle four lawsuits. Ethicon was also slapped with a $3.27 million verdict by a West Virginia jury last fall.
Hammons’ fight, meanwhile, has yet to come to an end. The jury granted Hammons’ bid for punitive damages, which could result in Ethicon shelling out even more money to compensate the plaintiff.