Kavaler Expert Witness for J&J on Stand in Beltz Mesh Trial

Jane Akre
May 18, 2017

Dr. Eizabeth Kavaler, Medical Expert for J&J

Mesh Medical Device News Desk, May 17, 2017~ Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a urogynecologist, appeared as an expert witness for Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, in a Philadelphia product liability trial over transvaginal mesh Wednesday.

The defense presented her as a medical expert in the case of Beltz v. Ethicon.

[*UPDATE- The Beltz case has now gone to the jury. Stay with MND for the verdict! ]

She has been presented as a defense expert witness in the trial of Linda Gross, and Joan Budke, women injured from their pelvic mesh implants (Budke's injury was fatal), as well as other plaintiff actions on behalf of Johnson & Johnson.

Dr. Elizabeth Kavaler, a New York city based urogynecologist, appeared again Wednesday as a medical expert for Ethicon in the case of Beltz v. Ethicon. Beltz etal vs Ethicon Women’s Health and Urology, Case ID: 130603835).

On September 20, 2006, Sharon 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.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

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

The Beltz trial began in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on May 8th, and the jury is now listening to the defense side of events.


In the Linda Gross trial, Dr. Kavaler testified that pelvic mesh does not move around within the pelvic area.

“It does not have a life of its own,” she said. See Mesh News Desk coverage here.

Adam Slater, Feb. 2013

Courtesy Courtroom View Network

Dr. Kavaler had conducted a medical exam on Ms. Gross.

In August 2013, the Gross case resulted in an $11.1 million verdict for the South Dakota nurse.

J&J appealed and has exhausted the appeals process and the award should finally be awarded to the family soon.

Kavaler has been an expert witness for at least 25 cases for Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon concerning pelvic mesh made by the healthcare giant.

Plaintiff attorney, Adam Slater recounted her deposition where she said she “was a big mesh user.”

That is what got her the attention of Dr. Vincent Lucente, an Ethicon consultant, who introduced her to Ethicon. Dr. Kavaler was driven to the company headquarters and attended a dinner in the Meat Packing District in New York City where she said she wanted to talk to other doctors.

After first being contacted by Ethicon in 2009 she began teaching courses for the company on the use of another mesh, Prosima. She was also hired to proctor a cadaver lab.

Kavaler admitted during the Gross trial that Ethicon was not informing surgeons about mesh complications, mesh removals or even what to expect when a polypropylene mesh goes wrong.

Dr. Daniel Elliott

According to sources close to the case, the first witness on behalf of Ms. Beltz was Dr. Daniel Elliott, urologist from the Mayo Clinic, by video. He also appeared in the Hammons trial.

Medical expert Dr. Tom Margolis, MD also appeared. 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.


So far J&J has suffered a string of losses in this venue. 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.

There are nearly 200 pelvic mesh product liability cases filed in this Philadelphia state court waiting for trial.

Most name as a defendant Ethicon, Johnson & Johnson or Gynecare, all divisions of J&J. Boston Scientific, another mesh manufacturer, is also named in a number of other product liability cases filed here.

The Beltz case could go to the jury this week. ###

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