A woman who endured nine surgeries and nearly a dozen chemical cauterizations after her transvaginal mesh device eroded inside her body was awarded $41 million by a Philadelphia jury. Jurors found Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon Inc., had negligently designed the mesh implant and never warned that the device could erode though the body’s soft tissue in the pelvis and cause permanent scarring, debilitating pain, and other problems, Law360 reported.
Transvaginal mesh was designed to treat conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) or stress urinary incontinence. The mesh was implanted through the vagina. It was billed as a minimally invasive treatment.
Suzanne Emmet, who filed her lawsuit in 2013 along with her husband, Michael, said she was implanted with three of Ethicon’s mesh devices to treat stress urinary incontinence, a condition caused when her bladder and rectum began sagging against her vagina. But after surgery, Emmet suffered complications requiring several surgeries and cauterizations to remove bits of the mesh that had eroded inside her body.
Ethicon’s attorneys argued that the mesh had done its job by correcting Emmet’s urinary stress incontinence. They said any risks with the device were well known by the time she was implanted with the mesh. Furthermore, they argued, she had waited too long to file her lawsuit because she would have known at least four years before she filed her lawsuit that her problems were caused by defective mesh.
Emmet’s attorneys barked back, telling jurors that Ethicon needed to be held accountable. The jurors apparently took note, returning with the multi-million-dollar verdict, which included $25 million in punitive damages.
The Emmets’ case is the eighth Ethicon has faced in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas since December 2015 involving claims that its mesh is defective and causes injuries. Six trials have ended in favor of the plaintiffs with damages totaling more than $145 million.