After more than a decade of waiting and challenges, the jury verdict of $12,850,945.18 million in favor of mesh-injured plaintiff Patricia Hammons will stand.
In upholding the jury verdict, Pennsylvania’s highest court ruled Hammons did have the jurisdiction to sue J&J upholding the previous ruling by the Superior Court. Hers was the first mesh case to be filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Defendant Ethicon has challenged based on the jurisdictional question ever since the verdict on December 21, 2015. It included $7M in punitive damages.
Ethicon cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s high-profile decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California which was game-changing for defendants. SCOTUS essentially tightened the venue in which one can bring a lawsuit. In this case, Ethicon argued Hammons is from Indiana and was implanted with the mesh there. Ethicon is based in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Lawyers for Hammons, including Shanin Specter and Adam Slater, argued that even though Hammons is not a resident of Pennsylvania and Ethicon is not based there, the polypropylene mesh used in the Prolift was woven by Secant Medical, Inc. a Bucks County manufacturer, to Ethicon’s specifications. The high court agreed. Secant was also named as a defendant.
Here is the opinion issued October 21, 2020.
Hammons was represented by Shanin Specter (Kline Specter) and Adam Slater (Mazie Slater). Slater also represented Linda Gross in her $11.1 M Case against Ethicon in New Jersey.
Hammons is from Indiana and works at Walmart as a stocker. She alleged her product was negligently designed, manufactured, and that J&J failed to warn doctors about the risk of the Prolift. She was implanted in 2009 after which she had numerous surgeries to fix the prolapse after the Prolift reportedly failed. The mesh has adhered to her bladder and cannot be removed after numerous attempts.
Specter showed the jury the blue and white mesh that comes in a box precut along with its stainless steel hooks or trocars used for implantation. He also criticized the mesh for having pores too small that cause excess scarification or scar growth. Scar tissue tends to contract and can take with it nerves, causing chronic pain. Ethicon had no idea how to remove the mesh if it caused complications, Specter told jurors.
Experts testified the Prolift contains 260 yards of plastic polypropylene that is foreign to the body.
Hammons was the first of a dozen cases to be heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas which has yielded $346.6 M for mesh-injured plaintiffs.
June 19, 2018, Judge V. Stabile responds to Ethicon appeal (here)
MND, June 20, 2018 Hammons Prolift Case $12.8 Million verdict Upheld (here)
MND, December 22, 2015, Philadelphia Prolift Mesh Case Yields $12.5 Million Verdict for Plaintiff (here)