Mesh News Desk, December 21, 2015 ~ A Philadelphia jury today ruled Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay a mesh-injured woman $5.5 million in compensatory damages for its negligence over the defectively designed Prolift pelvic mesh. The jury will return for deliberations Tuesday over punitive damages which could add millions to the verdict in a damaging blow to the company.
This was the second product liability trial over Prolift, one of the largest pelvic meshes ever produced used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. The first Prolift trial of Linda Gross in 2013 resulted in a $11.1 million ruling for Ms. Gross but did not find the mesh was defective in its design. That verdict is still under appeal.
In the two-week trial of Patricia Hammons, 64, the jury found for the plaintiff on all three claims - defective design, a failure to warn doctors about its dangers and negligence in manufacturing and in bringing the Prolift to market.
Does this verdict bring J&J to the settlement table? Plaintiff attorney Adam Slater (Mazie Slater) says he is not settling his clients for cheap.
“We never made a settlement demand from Day One. We told them we intended to take this case to a verdict.”
Slater says high-level executives within Ethicon were watching the trial.
Adam Slater, Mazie, Slater
”J & J has displayed an attitude so far they don’t care what the jury says, they don’t care what the judge says, they’re bigger than everyone else. They do things on J&J’s terms. That’s my impression of them.”
This is the first case heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas with at least 181 other cases filed against Ethicon, a division of J&J, over its pelvic mesh to be heard in rapid succession beginning in January 2016. Additionally there are 8,000 pelvic mesh cases filed against Ethicon in New Jersey and 30,312 cases (as of today) filed in Charleston WV where federal consolidation of cases under multidistrict litigation.
Attorneys for Ms. Hammons were Shanin Specter of Kline & Specter and Adam Slater of Mazie Slater.
This marks the first time document destruction by J&J has been brought before a jury. See the MND background stories here and here.
Defense team included Matt Moriatiry of Tucker Ellis, Susan Robinson of Thomas Combs.
Attorney Shanin Specter (Kline & Specter) said the Prolift pelvic mesh implant has too much mesh which causes scar tissue, mesh contraction and erosion. The amount of mesh could stretch across two-and-a half football fields, he told jurors. Ms. Hammons suffers mesh erosion into her bladder and “excruciating” pain during sex or dyspareunia. The mesh was found to have folded under her bladder and repeated surgeries have caused a shortened vagina.
Patricia L. Hammons v Secant Medical, Ethicon, in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Case No. 2:13-cv-04086. Secant is the maker of a component of the polypropylene mesh implant.
The defense team blamed pain during sex on the plaintiff’s hysterectomy she underwent in 2009 and additional prolapsing of her small bowel and uterus. Prolift had nothing to do with the fact she later developed the bowel prolapse, she said.
Ethicon removed Prolift from the market three years ago after the U.S Food and Drug Administration required it to do three-year post approval monitoring for its effects on women. Mesh News Desk has since found Prolift available online on ebay.
This trial has been limited to two weeks by Judge Mark I. Bernstein.
Expect defective product trials naming pelvic meshes made by Ethicon to be heard in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Dallas all beginning in January 2016. #
MND on how Prolift was brought to market