Beltz Pelvic Mesh Trial in Philadelphia- Will it be Fourth PA Court Loss for J&J?

Jane Akre
May 11, 2017

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, May 11, 2017 ~ The case of Sharon Beltz began with jury selection Monday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the same venue where there have been three straight losses for J&J over its transvaginal mesh, which includes $34.5 million in punitive damages

Does this comport with the company's model of "sustainability"?

The Prolift and TVT-O are the focus of the Beltz case.

In the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas there are nearly 200 pelvic mesh product liability cases filed naming primarily Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson. A fewer number of pelvic mesh cases name defendant, Boston Scientific.

Among them is the case of Sharon Beltz, whose trial began this week. (See Beltz etal vs Ethicon Women’s Health and Urology, Case ID: 130603835).

Beltz is suing Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon medical device division, along with Secant Medical that knits the Prolene polypropylene filaments, and Prodesco, Inc of Perkasie, Pennsylvania, which did business under the fictitious name of Secant Medical.

Secant Medical manufactured and sold the mesh components of the J&J pelvic mesh products.


On September 20, 2006, Ms. Beltz was implanted with the Ethicon Prolift System to treat pelvic organ prolapse. Her surgeon was Dr. Heather Van Raatle, MD at St. Lukes Hospital in Bethlehem, PA.

On that same day Beltz, was implanted with the Gynecare (Ethicon) TVT-O System to treat incontinence.

TVT graphic

Beltz says she has suffered permanent catastrophic injury, undergone corrective surgery, “has experienced, and will continue to experience, significant mental and physical pain and suffering, financial or economic loss, including, but not limited to, obligations for medical services and expenses.”

See the Beltz Complaint.

The Complaint reminds readers that even an Ethicon sponsored study, published in the August 2010 Journal of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists concluded there is a high 15.6% vaginal mesh erosion rate with Prolift. “With no difference in overall objective and subjective cure rates.”

See MND story here.

Prolift and three other meshes were removed from the market by J&J in 2012. See MND story here.

Prolift and TVT-O have been found defectively designed in pelvic mesh trials that have already gone to the jury.

The manufacturer has consistently under-reported and withheld information about the failure rate and propensity to cause injury and complications, says the Complaint.

In all, the defendant deceived the medical community and plaintiffs showing a “callous, reckless willful, and depraved indifference to the health, safety and welfare,” of the plaintiff.

Ms. Beltz had corrective surgery November 5, 2011 and then another revision surgery by Dr. Van Rattle.

Ms. Beltz alleges defective manufacture and design of the meshes, Common law fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligent infliction of emotional distress, breach of express warranty, Breach of implied warranty, violation of consumer protection law, gross negligence, loss of consortium,

Beltz is represented by Kline & Specter, the same firm that has overseen a series of plaintiff wins in the same Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Ethicon is represented by Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and Butler Snow, Thomas Combs & Spann and O’Melveny & Myers.

Punitive damages are allowed.


Mr. M . Tom Margolis MD

According to sources close to the case, the first witness is Dr. Daniel Elliott, urologist from the Mayo Clinic, by video. He also appeared in the Hammons trial.

Later in the week, the plaintiffs' causation expert will be M. Tom Margolis, MD. Dr. Margolis has been an expert medical witness in a number of pelvic mesh trials. He is one of the few doctors in the country specializing in pelvic mesh complications and revisions at his San Francisco area office. See it here.

The defense expert is Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, MD from the Gross and Budke case.

J&J in this PA Court - A HISTORY OF LOSSES

The last three trials resulted in wins for the Plaintiff including - $12.5 million (Hammons), $13.5 million (Carlino) and on April 28th $20 million for Ms. Engleman.

Read the MND story of the Engleman trial here.

MDN on Carlino here.

Read the MND story on Hammons case here.

Altogether, the three cases represent $34.5 million in punitive damages, intended to punish a company. Juries decided on the punitive damages after listening to evidence from both sides.

Here is the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas website which has 182 pelvic mesh cases listed for trial, primarily naming Ethicon Women’s Health and Urology, Johnson & Johnson. A few cases name defendant Boston Scientific, Inc.

Monday, May 15th there is a Pelvic Mesh Meeting scheduled in the Complex Litigation Center. ###

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