Huge Award in Vaginal Mesh Injury Trial

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May 01, 2019
Edward Smith

Huge Award in Vaginal Mesh Injury Trial

A vaginal mesh injury trial ended on April 24 in Philadelphia with a $120 million verdict against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Of recent cases, this was by far the largest amount to be handed down. It included $100 million in punitive damages. The implant was meant to treat the plaintiff’s urinary stress incontinence but instead left her in constant pain and prevented her from having relations with her husband. With over 100,000 women suing manufacturers due to problems because of a vaginal mesh injury, the FDA has decided to review it further. Since many women suffer from stress incontinence, the procedure continues to be offered to them despite problems associated with it.

The Case Against Ethicon, Inc.

The plaintiff received a mesh implant in 2008. The implant eventually began to penetrate the pelvic tissues and entered the vagina. This caused the plaintiff severe pain and required additional surgery to have a section of the implant removed. Over time, her pain worsened, and it prevented her from having sex with her husband. Blaming the design of the implant, which led to vaginal mesh injury, she filed a lawsuit against Ethicon. Jurors were to consider whether to award damages to both the plaintiff and her husband.

Two Trials, One Win

There have been two trials in the case. The first was deadlocked in September of 2018 since jurors found it difficult to decide if the vaginal mesh injury caused the plaintiff’s complaints. The second began in March 2019. The plaintiff’s attorney requested that the jury let Ethicon know that their behavior was not appropriate. In addition, the attorney asked that the jury not allow Ethicon/Johnson & Johnson to dismiss her client’s complaints. The jury decided in the plaintiff’s favor.

What Caused the Vaginal Mesh Injury

So, why did this complication arise? According to the plaintiff’s attorney, it had to do with the weight of the mesh that was used. As the mesh shrinks down, it becomes tight and hard, enabling it to slice through the wall of the vagina. The company allowed the product to go to market in nine months without clinical trials to determine if it was efficient and safe.

Ethicon Fights Back

Ethicon’s lawyers said that the type of mesh that was used was identical to that used for this procedure since 1990. He said the procedure was not the basis for the plaintiff’s problems as proven by testimony and shown in the plaintiff’s medical records. He countered that it could have been the normal, age-related atrophy seen in vaginal tissue that causes her pain, particularly with intercourse.

Why Use a Mesh Implant

Overactive bladder or stress incontinence may require surgery if other measures have failed. Urinary stress incontinence affects over 25 million women in the United States. About 25 percent of women occasionally leak urine. From the time the problem begins, it usually takes women more than six years to seek medical care. Stress incontinence is more common in women than in men. Some reasons it occurs are menopause, childbirth, and pregnancy. Age is also a factor. From the age of 60, about 23 percent of women have stress incontinence.

Treatment for Stress Incontinence

If non-surgical treatment does not work, there are several surgical procedures to choose from. One involves using a strip of mesh to form a sling that supports the tube, which is called the urethra, that carries urine away from the bladder. By supporting the urethra, the mesh curtails urine leakage with pressure, such as when someone coughs or sneezes. One type of sling is called tension free. The body tissues hold it in place. As time goes by, scar tissue grows around the sling and maintains its position. It usually takes two to four weeks before the person can lift heavy objects or exercise strenuously.

Legal Help for Medical Device Failure

When someone has surgery that involves the introduction of a foreign substance into the body, problems can erupt. This includes mesh slings for urinary incontinence as described above. Being able to turn to an attorney with experience in faulty medical devices can make a considerable difference in the case outcome. The attorney will be able to review medical records, consult with experts and determine the nature of the damages involved. Bringing a company to justice after their negligence caused someone a vaginal mesh injury is a necessary step. This helps the injured party recover damages and may work to stop this from happening to another woman.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. Suffering a vaginal mesh injury can cause pain and rob the person of joy. Let me help you through this ordeal. Just call (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. You can also reach me online or on my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400.

I’ve helped many people obtain compensation in all types of traumatic injuries. I’ve also helped families with wrongful death claims.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. The first allows membership for lawyers who have won more than $1 million for a client. The second welcome members if they are among the top tier of lawyers who provide legal excellence in their practice.

Learn more about my practice on the following pages:

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