Mesh Medical Device News Desk, May 26, 2017~ The case of Sharon Beltz v. Ethicon began with jury selection May 8.
The case concluded Friday afternoon after a 12-day trial with a $2.16 million dollar jury verdict for Ms. Beltz.
This becomes the fourth consecutive win for mesh-injured plaintiffs in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
*Late correction to this story- the POP mesh in question is the Prolift NOT Prolift +M, which was a later version of the same mesh.*
Although the lowest of the four recent jury verdicts for the plaintiff, the jury did establish that the risks of Prolift outweighed the benefit and it was responsible for her injuries.
The jury found the Prolift a large polypropylene mesh used to shore up pelvic organs, was defective in its design.
There were no punitive damages awarded in the Beltz case.
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. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, PA.
On that same day, Beltz was implanted with the Gynecare (Ethicon) TVT -O (tension-free tape obturator) System to treat incontinence.
According to Beltz’s pretrial memorandum, the mesh could not be removed and her injuries are permanent.
“She may elect to undergo further pain injections, resection of the mesh, or start taking pain medications regularly, but these options at best will only mitigate her symptoms. She has to live the remainder of her life with constant pelvic pain, a sensation her bladder is pulling, urinary incontinence and retention, lower flank pain, urinary tract infections, and severe pain with sex that lingers days after she has intercourse,” court papers said.
“She will be at risk for exposure of the mesh in her vagina and erosion of the mesh into her bladder, urethra, or other organs for the remainder of her life.”
Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, claims that the Beltz care had an expired statute of limitation and did not prove causation and that the TVT-O is the standard of care for incontinence as recognized by professional medical societies.
Beltz et al vs Ethicon Women’s Health and Urology, Case ID: 130603835, was the fourth win for plaintiffs injured by the healthcare giant’s pelvic mesh products.
The losses are substantial for a company that claims it is based on “sustainability.”
The TVT remains on the market while J&J quietly took Prolift off the market along with three other meshes in mid 2012.
A SERIES OF LOSSES FOR J&J
The last three trials in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, resulted in wins for the Plaintiff including – $12.5 million (Hammons), $13.5 million (Carlino) and on April 28th $20 million for Ms. Engleman.
These verdicts include more than $35 million in punitive damages, intended to send a message to the company and to discourage its behavior.
There are nearly 200 pelvic mesh product liability cases filed in this Philadelphia state court waiting for trial, most naming the Ethicon medical device division of Johnson & Johnson, which is also facing nearly 40,000 product liability cases amassed in multidistrict litigation in Charleston, WV and thousands of cases filed in New Jersey and elsewhere around the country and globally.
J&J has more defective product cases filed against it than another other mesh maker.
Like the other plaintiffs, 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.
Ms. Beltz is represented by Kline & Specter, a Philadelphia law firm that remains in litigation over transvaginal mesh. It is the same team that has overseen a series of plaintiff wins in the same Philadelphia court.
The team is assisted by Aylstock Kreis of Pensacola.
J&J has reportedly stopped preparing cases for trial and instead is in a settlement mode.
Plaintiffs report to MND that the value of cases runs from a few hundred dollars up to about $250,000, before legal fees and expenses are subtracted. Most women say this amount will not even pay for their substantial medical bills.
Meanwhile in the West Virginia court before Judge Joseph Goodwin, J&J product liability cases are being gathered into “waves” so they can be litigated or settled en masse.
Rather than “sustainability” the business model echoed at the recent J&J shareholder’s meeting, this business model more closely resembles game of chicken with an enormous risk.
Read more on the Beltz case here and here.
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.
Mesh News Desk will report on the verdict when it comes in! Stay tuned. ###