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Beltz Pelvic Mesh Case Yields $2.16 Mill Verdict for Plaintiff!

From Huffington Post

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.

TVT mesh breaks apart, Wisbech Standard, UK

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.

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 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.”

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas

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.  ###

30 Comments

  1. Anon says:

    Well I am sure that Mrs Beltz is thankful for the win. I personally dont feel its enough to punish JNJ. But it’s a win no doubt. So if they are in settlement mode why have a majority heard that News from our autourneys ? If they think settlement will be a few thousand to 250000. They should sharpen their pencils. We are mamed for life at least I and many women are. Even at max it would be about 2 yrs pay for a great career I lost due to there negligence . Most of us should not have to live in poverty and should be compensated for future medical expenses as well as for what we have insured. My last of 4 surgeries cost around 150k . We all need justly compensated.

    • Kitty says:

      I am her and she is me. I never looked at my life in such a negative way…but the truth is stinging. Hope she doesn’t have to go thru any more humiliation.

    • Bejah Butterton says:

      So happy for Mrs. B but what about the spector of endless appeals, and all the payoffs…still a win is worth millions in many ways, justice for one. Thank you GOD.

      Bejah

  2. jughead says:

    It’s great that PA actually is trying cases. I am pretty sure hasn’t been an Ethicon/Gynecare case that went to trial in NJ MDL since Gross v Ethicon in Feb 2013. The one that WAS scheduled to go in January 2017, Smith v. Ethicon, was quietly settled just last week. http://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/assets/mcl/pelvicmesh/orders-gynecare/smithsusa-dismissal.pdf

    Seems to be the M.O. to settle the ones that go to trial, so there’s no NJ precedent/bellweather, and all the thousands of women can just sit and wait another 4 years for ONE SINGLE CASE to be called to go to trial… and then J&J will settle that ONE SINGLE CASE. And on to the next. So we have Gross settled, and Smith settled. That only leaves 9,022 left to go in NJ MDL. Bringing one case to trial every four year, we only have about 36,000 more years to go…

    • Debb says:

      This is criminal we need a national news media to do a show on tv that will out j&j for the butchering they’re doing to thousands of women! There has to be a way!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am on the NJ court list. We have gone through judge changes and the cases are as slow as snails. I just found this story and wil post a few paragraphs that may give some—hope.

      –Begin quote of article—
      “In giant tort cases like this one, the attorneys typically pick several “bellwether” cases that will help both sides get a sense of how a jury may respond to the evidence. They select cases that represent several levels, or tiers, of injury, from inconvenience all the way to death – thereby giving both sides a rough idea of the financial award each type of plaintiff could expect.

      Once there are enough verdicts, the two sides can work out settlements for each tier of cases.”
      –End Quote of article–

      Make sure you click to look at the woman featured’s photos.

      Here is the article

      Thousands of women await day in court against J&J
      http://www.nj.com/healthfit/index.ssf/2017/04/massive_jj_pelvic_mesh_lawsuit_gets_autumn_court_d.html

      • Anonymous says:

        The bag of pills in the copyrighted photos looks like the pills I was on.

        So many UTI’s antibiotics would not work on ly homeopathic L-Mannose worked. I was actually prescribed bactrim to take forever to stop the UTI’s. I am a nurse and knew that was a mistake and could cause C-Diff. So I searched for ways to help myself, including Chinese Medicine and Chinese pelvic floor physical therapy.

        Also a kind warning to all reading. The pain medications caused me severe stomach indigestion constipation issues. I took VERY PAINFUL internal injections of a cocktail of drugs into my lower pelvic floor muscle up into my vagina. It hurt like NOTHING I have ever felt but after 2 weeks it worked and gave me reprieve for a year.

      • Jughead says:

        The problem is, the cases that are supposed to be Bellwether are not going to trial so we don’t have any precedent at all. The Bellwether cases are settled for (I suspect) very generous dollar amounts, and Johnson & Johnson can then put off a further damning verdict for another 4 years.

        • Jane Akre says:

          Actually very few have been paid after a jury verdict, four in all – two bard and two J&J.

        • anonymous says:

          Jughead,

          I am not sure I understand what you are saying. If you study the NJ J&J court cases they are slow but they have gone into conference and chosen from a certain pool of various cases. The lower tiered cases (as in the cases that people have the mesh in and have no problems) and are getting settlements will never go to court. The higher tiered cases that can prove chronic pain with and without mesh removal revision surgeries just sit but are represented by the cases won, no?

          I think this quote says it best

          Begin quote from bloomberg article on TVT Mesh

          Begin quote:
          Carl Tobias, who teaches product liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said J&J should consider a comprehensive settlement to all the cases.

          “It would be silly to continue taking these cases to trial when they are losing,” he said in an interview. “There’s no sense in continuing to shell out for the defense costs and suffer the reputation damage that comes with each win by the plaintiffs.”
          End Quote.

      • Bejah Butterton says:

        I just read this. I thought, my heart goes out to her, my heart is like a wheel, all of us who pray, our hearts, our prayers are like a wheel that never stops….it comforts always deep in the soul of the wounded.

        While I was reading I received a phone call from City of Hope Medical Center here in LA. I filled out a contact form last night. Today Lucy called me to begin the process of creating a second opinion appt. for me regarding the bladder cancer possibility. They were very interested in the mesh surgery and want all those records also. This could get interesting.

        Also I read in that article that the State of California has filed suit against Ethicon. I wonder if that will help me (us) and how.

        Bejah

  3. Kitty says:

    Also..thank you Jane for your report. Your what we hold on to for news.

  4. lordhelpus says:

    Good for her! 😀👍

  5. Stop Mesh Implants says:

    Thankful that prayers for a verdict in favor of Sharon Beltz and her legal team were answered. Thank you, Jane. I appreciate your articles about this trial.

  6. friend of mesh victim says:

    Thank you for sharing the article to this website. The bag consists of every prescription medication that she was given from 2010 until present. Infections, Uti’s, an unused catheter (so people know that even our organs are not the same after the complications of mesh ,10 surgeries with the 11th on Friday June 2.

    The Chronicles she writes
    are her way of trying to process almost 7 years of torture and to try to
    explain what she and so many other women have endured. How it destroys the woman and even tortured their families .

    She wrote this in her book : Even though we are not to speak until it is our turn , I want them know “I do have a Voice ” and I matter … we all matter .

  7. Neverthesame says:

    Has anyone out there turned down a settlement offer. If so how do you move on to another attorney. I am tired of this dragging on and am considering the settlement offer as I am one of the highest paid tiers.The amount might be something to consider if there weren’t attorney fee, expenses, court fee’s and insurance subrogation to take there cut before I see a dime. It just is still not enough, I just don’t know it at this rate, if I will live long enough to see court. My doctor told me he removed as much mesh as he could be it is embedded in my bladder an other assorted tissue and organs. Thank you J&J for destroying my retirement years.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Never- Can you get to a full removal doctor? Even ask if they will do it pro bono…. doesn’t hurt to ask. Just so you all know, negotiate with your law firms. They will tell you the 5% common benefit fund should come out of you, but my understanding is that it should at the least be split with the law firm… you pay, say 1% and they pay 4%. It is their cost of doing business. I’m told that normally in a MDL the judge specifies how the common benefit fund should be contributed to. That didn’t happen here. Negotiate!!! Some of you may have had a retainer agreement that says if you don’t go to trial, and only settle, they may be entitled to only one-third! Read those agreements. The fine print!

      • Neverthesame says:

        I spoke with my attorney and was told that there is a deadline for future surgeries and at this point, I am in the highest tier and the amount would not change. My physician had stated that it would do more harm than good to dig out the remaining mesh. I am discouraged that after all is said and done I will be left with less than half of the settlement offer. How can this be justice. I am grateful that my husband has stood beside despite loss of consortium. I would like to but this nightmare behind me but know it will rear it’s ugly head again. What do you do about pre-existing conditions when that happens. At the end of it all the only winners are the attorneys. They and J&J just keep profiting on our misfortunes.

    • Kitty says:

      Sometimes mesh cannot be removed…it tears up inside…so much for tiers. How many surgeries did Ms Belz have?

  8. Vicky says:

    Jane, what is the common benefit fund?

    • Jane Akre says:

      As you know I”m not a lawyer. In the MDL in WV, there is a 5% set aside for work done by various law firms for the common benefit of all cases, not individual ones. That is info that is shared, reducing the cost to each firm of having to reinvent the wheel, i.e. depose the same experts etc. Here is an explanation by the American Bar Assn. BTW- I’m told that in most Common Benefit funds the judge specified who should pay into it and by what percentage, That was not done with pelvic mesh. Law firms will say you should pay it. It could be argued it is their cost of doing business and they can cover it out of their 40% which is already a good chunk if you didn’t get worked up for trial! A split is also possible with them paying 4% and the plaintiff paying only 1%. Again, hearsay by me and opinion.

      http://apps.americanbar.org/litigation/committees/masstorts/articles/spring2015-0415-evolution-common-benefit-order.html

      • Vicky says:

        Thank you so much Jane, I will for sure print out this explanation in case my lawyers should contact me. I have Wagstall and Cartmell and I really like them so far. They mailed me an update sheet type thing last month and know me when I call. Thanks Jane.

        • Jane Akre says:

          I like them too. They are trial lawyers who have taken these cases to the courtroom, where most have not!

  9. Vicky says:

    Sorry, misspelled “Wagstaff”.

  10. daniee says:

    I feel that the plaintiff’s attorneys did not do a good job.

  11. anonymous says:

    ATTENTION ALL

    The NJ court page on TVT mesh has moved. The courts opened a new website. The Mesh cases were hard to find. Here is a link

    http://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/mcl/bergen/pelvicmesh.html

  12. Gina H says:

    The bellweather trials are just smoke and mirrors. The global settlements reached are nowhere near in line with what the juries have found. They are nuisance value settlements. The only ones profiting from this entire ordeal are the lawyers who are helping to mitigate the financial exposure these manufacturers would face had they gone to trial. Further, lawyers are doing their level best to dissuade plaintiffs from not taking the settlements. They have dragged this out for so long and scared the hell out of anyone from not taking the low ball settlements. It’s absurd!!!

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