Yesterday a verdict was reached on the second case to go to trial in the Philadelphia mass tort program against transvaginal mesh manufacturers. A jury of eight women and four men found in favor of plaintiff Sharon Carlino, who alleged that Johnson and Johnson unit Ethicon’s transvaginal tape product, known as TVT, was negligently designed and her physician was not adequately warned of its risks.
The company faces $10 million in punitive damages, $3.5 million in compensatory damages, and another $250,000 to Carlino’s husband for loss of consortium, totaling a $13.5 million verdict.
Carlino received the TVT implant in 2005 to treat stress urinary incontinence, where during physical activity like sneezing, coughing or heavy lifting a person experiences unintentional loss of small amounts of urine. In the next three years the mesh continued to become exposed causing discomfort and necessitating surgical procedures, which caused scarring, constant pain and led to an inability to have sex.
According to Law360, in the closing arguments Ms. Carlino’s attorney explained that the evidence showed four key flaws in the product: the mesh’s small pores prevent tissue from growing through it as it should and instead creates rigid scar tissue; it changes shape when implanted, eroding, fraying or curling; it doesn’t cut cleanly when cut by machine instead of laser and pieces of the mesh become embedded in the vaginal tissue; and it degrades after implantation.
“Altogether, these combine to lead to permanent pain,” Law360 reports her attorney as saying. “The evidence shows that this woman has been courageous. She’s trusted Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson. She trusted her doctor for apparently good reason, but he didn’t know what he should have known. They’ve thrown everything at the wall to try to beat her down.”
The jury agreed with her attorney “that plaintiff Sharon Carlino’s physician would never have implanted the product had he been aware of its risks,” and Ethicon is being held liable for it.
This is the second case to go to trial out of the nearly 180 cases against Ethicon consolidated as a part of Philadelphia’s mass tort program. In December 2015 a jury found in favor of plaintiff Patricia Hammonds that Ethicon’s Prolift pelvic mesh product was negligently designed and that they had failed to warn her physician of its risks. Damages awarded in that case were $12.5 million.