L.B. v Ethicon: Defense Wraps Up its Pelvic Mesh Case

Jane Akre
April 2, 2014
Prolene mesh

Prolene mesh

"Cathy" continues her observations from a Dallas courtroom where 64-year-old L.B. is facing multi-billion dollar healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson and its women's health and urology division, Ethicon. Cathy is a mesh-injured woman who cannot be identified because she is involved in litigation.

Mesh News Desk is very grateful to its citizen court watchers! Thank you very much.

*UPDATE* Case went to the jury at 3:15 pm Wednesday!

L.B. was implanted with a TVT-O, a plastic polypropylene (PP) mesh in January 2011 at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas. The case is wrapping up with the defense presenting its side of the events regarding her complications. Monday, it was clear that LB. was a smoker with a health of medical problems including diabetes, overweight with high blood pressure. As we are learning throughout these cases, PP mesh is not contraindicated for anyone with any medical condition. (Contraindicated- a warning against using a product/ device in someone with preexisting conditions. See this study). If the warning does not exist, how then can the patient be blamed for having had the device implanted?

Thank you "Cathy" for your observations and opinions gathered during your time spent in the courtroom. Many people are very appreciative. Here is her story:

judge mallet 200

"Today was April Fools Day. The only “fools” in the courtroom were the J&J Legal Team and their “expert” medical witness.

"Dr. Anhalt is a urologist from Houston. See his practice page here.

He has an impressive resume and was very comfortable sitting in the witness chair answering questions from the J&J team. He was quite the expert in that he talked to the jury as if he were teaching them about TVT’s and TVT-O’s.

Dr. Melvyn Anhalt, urologist witness for J&J

Dr. Melvyn Anhalt, urologist witness for J&J

He stated that years ago he used to be a expert witness, but hadn’t done that in several years. He answered questions regarding Linda’s medical difficulties and went out of the way to make it clear to the jury that none of her problems were mesh-related. He went out of his way to constantly bring up the smoking issues, weight, and poor health before implantation.

"He stated that he’s done 600 TVT and TVT-O procedures. He stated that complications were “rare” and he could only remember one case with minor complications that were minor and quickly resolved. I was afraid the jury would buy into his inflated opinion of himself….. He stated he spent over 45 hours reviewing her records. He admitted he was being paid to testify. This presentation took up the entire morning. By lunch, I was worried that he “had the jury." The judge announced a two-hour lunch break and I no longer had an appetite.

Cross - Examination

Richard Freese, Freese & Goss attorney for L.B.

Richard Freese, Freese & Goss attorney for L.B.

"After the lunch break it was time for more of Dr. Anhalt's testimony and I was hoping the jury would want to take a nap. Even if some had planned on it, Mr. Freese, the attorney for L.B. was about to WAKE THEM UP. Mr. Richard A. Freese (Freese & Goss) went straight for the jugular. It was established that Dr. Anhalt was an Ethicon consultant making big bucks.

"An Ethicon consulting contract was shown to the jury proving he was hired to provide teaching services as a preceptor to build on the number of doctors using their mesh. Separately Ethicon documents were shown that Dr. Anhalt was paid over $300,000.00 in one year for recruiting and teaching doctors to use the TVT/TVT-O. Confidential Ethicon documents were displayed that showed just about everything he’d said in the morning was FALSE. At one point Mr. Freese was asking him if he recalled (using fake names as I did not write down their names) Mary Jones, Sally Smith, Lucy Peterson etc. He said those names did not ring a bell. Mr. Freese said these women were all patients of his that had complications and were now suing Ethicon. The jury at this point was all ears.

"Of course the J&J team objected (due to this having to do with the MDL). Apparently talking about the multidistrict litigation (MDL) was off-limits and the judge was forced to ask the jury to forget they heard that. Too late, the damage was done. Poor Dr. Anhalt was slowly sinking in his chair.

"At one point he said “I don’t remember making that kind of money, I’ll have to look at my tax returns. He was so flustered, he had trouble trying to back pedal. When Ethicon docs were shown to the jury showing that Ethicon knew they had problems with the mesh, he looked like he wanted to crawl under a rock. Mr. Freese discounted everything Dr. Anhalt had said this morning (with strong evidence to back it up).

"At one point I saw a jury member laughing and covering up his mouth to hide his laughter. Dr. Anhalt looked like he lost every friend on the jury. I looked at the J&J team and have never seen so many RED faces at one time. They knew this looked BAD. Every time they would object to something the judge would say overruled. I really think the judge wanted to hear more of the TRUTH. This was a very good day for Linda and her team.

"The jury is tired and they have had enough and Dr. Anhalt did not come across as honest. Mr. Freese managed to counter all the items that had me worried this morning. He was spectacular! I don’t think the jury has anymore patience for Ethicon, the J&J team or any of their witnesses.

Dr. Tom Margolis, female pelvic surgeon who appeared at L.B. trial

Dr. Tom Margolis, female pelvic surgeon who appeared at L.B. trial

"This morning Dr. Anhalt disagreed with both Dr. Margolis and expert witness Peggy Pence Ph,D. The confidential docs from Ethicon made them look so bad, they knew about the mesh complications and it was clear in the evidence that Mr. Freese showed the jury. The afternoon definitely belonged to Linda and her team. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out tomorrow that a settlement offer had been made. This was a wonderful day because so much TRUTH came out. My heart was bursting with happy, happy, happy."

*Editors Note* The Batiste v. Ethicon case is expected to go to the jury this week and a decision is likely before Friday.

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