Federal Mesh Trial Against J&J: Missing Documents

//Federal Mesh Trial Against J&J: Missing Documents

Federal Mesh Trial Against J&J: Missing Documents

Prolene mesh

Prolene mesh

DAY ONE CONTINUES ~Afternoon Session~

Information contained in a missing box of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) documents, thought to have been destroyed, led the afternoon session in this opening day of Huskey v. Ethicon, a defective product trial that puts Johnson & Johnson and its controversial transvaginal mesh products on the global spotlight.

The case number is 2:12-cv-05201.

This coverage is provided in conjunction with We Are Mesh Survivors, a coalition of synthetic vaginal mesh implant survivors united to demand justice for those who have suffered and to demand that existing products be pulled from the market until their safety can be demonstrated.

J&J has acknowledged it lost or destroyed hundreds of thousands of pages of documents that were under a litigation hold in preparation for the thousands of product liability cases involving injuries from pelvic mesh. (See background story on Mesh News Desk here).   But since the Carolyn Lewis case, heard in this federal court last April, a missing box of documents was produced by defendant J&J.

The box was significant because it contained some of the special added ingredients that make J&J’s polypropylene (PP) mesh (Prolene) different from other polypropylene meshes made by competitors C.R. Bard and Boston Scientific, among others. No details were offered on how this box of documents previously requested in discovery was produced or where it had been.


scot t guelcher

Scott Guelcher Ph.D

Experts for the Plaintiff

Scott Guelcher Ph.D. a biomaterials expert from Vanderbilt Univeristy (Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, with a research focus on polymer science and engineering, biomaterials.) See more here.

Dr. Guelcher told the jury he does not believe the antioxidant and lubricant additives – Sandonox R (an antioxidant), calcium stearate (a lubricant) and the chemical additive (antioxidant) DLTPD – serve to stabilize the pelvic mesh. Instead, cells secrete reactive oxygen which starts the chemical and physical breakdown of the mesh making it brittle and causing it to crack. Dr. Guelcher said the foreign body response to mesh begins three days after it is implanted and does not stop, ever. Chronic inflammatory response is a foreign body reaction, according to the PhD.

“It’s best to minimize the polypropylene in the mesh,” he concludes.

“Are you anti polypropylene?” asked attorney Ed Wallace. “No” said Dr. Guelcher, “I’m not against the option to use polypropylene in the body.”

Dave Thomas, attorney J&J

Dave Thomas, attorney J&J

On cross examination, Dave Thomas for J&J (Thomas Combs and Spann (here) made sure jurors understood that the raw polypropylene material comes from Sunoco but is processed in nearby Kenova, WV plant (here), one of the largest in the world that makes polypropylene.  Hasn’t J&J overseen quality for decades, Thomas asked during his cross examination.

“Do you know how many prolene sutures have been implanted?” Thomas asks the witness. Answering himself, Thomas said “billions” and the witness acknowledged that could be true. Prior to this litigation you never studies polypropylene did you, Thomas asked.  His was an aggressive and confrontational style.

Not true, said the professor who tried to explain further. His professorial style clashed with Thomas who wanted short responsive answers and a judge who was willing to accommodate. Judge Goodwin did allow the expert to say he had developed a course on polymer science at Vanderbilt University.

He never examined the explanted mesh from Mrs. Huskey. No one has because it was never preserved.

Dr. Brigetta Helhammer appeared in the afternoon via videotaped deposition. Now retired, the MD worked in R&D for Ethicon in the later 1990’s she would write literature reviews for the company and was a project leader over the Ethicon project “TVT Star.”

Its mission was to come up with new ideas for pelvic floor prolapse treatments. Gynemesh Vycro was developed during time using a lighter weight and large pore mesh. Prolene mesh worked well with no problems and by 1999-2000 a decision was made by the company not to change the TVT product line based, in part, on the Scandinavian studies done by Dr. Ulf  Ulmsten, credited with inventing the TVT (transvaginal tape). Ulmsten also profited royally by selling his patent for TVT to J&J, a fact revealed in the Lewis case.

Bruce Rosenzweig MD

Bruce Rosenzweig MD

At the end of the day, Dr. Bruce Rosenzweig was called as an expert witness for Mrs. Huskey. In his Chicago practice he explants mesh and has removed about 250, 40 to 50 of them Ethicon slings. He told jurors only about 10 percent of stress urinary incontinence is severe, which he describes as leaking more than once a day. Though he has used PP mesh in the past, today the doctor does the Burch Procedure which involves stitching up the neck of the bladder to treat incontinence. He says there is no difference in success rates among the Burch, fascia slings and mid-urethral PP slings.

Attorney Jeff Kuntz (Wagstaff Cartmell) established how much the doctor has been paid $5,000 a day for testimony and at least $60,000 to review documents. That rate is calculated by determining the days the doctor is away from his practice. It is customary of both sides to raise the question of compensation for expert witnesses to  raise questions about their credibility.  #

Learn More:

Mesh News Desk, December 8, 2013 ~ What Was Lost in J&J Purge of Documents?


Santonox R


The Rheumatologist on Adjuvants June 2011


Lewis Case 2:12-cv-04301 Doc# 248-2, filed 2/05/14 pg 5 of 39, Mentions Spin Finish in mesh using Santonox-R & DLTDP as anti-oxidates identified in Mesh by Jordi Labs.


By | 2014-08-25T23:06:36+00:00 August 25th, 2014|News|15 Comments

About the Author:

I’m National News Editor, Jane Akre and I began Mesh Medical Device News Desk aka Mesh News Desk (MND) in the summer of 2011 just after the Food and Drug Administration issued an explicit warning to the public that complications associated with surgical mesh used for prolapse repair (POP) and incontinence (SUI) are NOT rare! That was the starting point for the litigation you see today and thousands of lawsuits have been filed by women whose lives have been altered, some permanently, by the use of this petroleum-based product.


  1. Paula August 26, 2014 at 8:16 am - Reply

    It amazes me how they are allowed to point out how much individuals are paid to testify but not allowed to tell the jury about the details pertaining to the destruction of files, the recalls, deaths caused by the MESH implants and the hundreds who have suffered tremendously and are still greatly suffering.

  2. Aaron Leigh August 26, 2014 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Wow Jane. Thank you. You are a true Journalist! Remarkable reporting. Thank you.

  3. Teresa R. Jones August 26, 2014 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    Thank you for coverage of the trial. You are a great blessing to us all. T.

  4. Tammy August 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm - Reply

    Thank you, Jane. What a blessing to be able to keep up with the trail. God bless

  5. Anna August 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I thought I read that they WERE able to talk about the destroyed documents in this particular trial? Is that not the case? Not allowing that because it’s prejudicial would be like not allowing a murder trial to show the crime scene photos of the dead body because it might prejudice the jury against the defendant.

    • Jane Akre September 10, 2014 at 10:36 am - Reply

      They did not mention this was a box of missing documents that suddenly appeared AFTER the discovery process. The jury never heard about document destruction.

  6. Maureen K August 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    thanks for a great report.

    JNJ better give up and start to compensate all of us women who have suffered for years.

    5 years and 5 operations and more likely, pain for ever.

    No matter how much or how big, the money is, it can never buy health and happiness nor it brings the consortium with your loved one back.

    God bless all

    • Kitty August 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

      Maureen—you seem very confident with this trial. Did you read Dr Pramudji’s deposition? After what happened with the last J&J trial I am not making cavalier statements of hope. On another note—-It is so good to have you back reporting Jane. Also it was generous for Estelle to be at the trial to offer support to Jo and her husband.

  7. Robert August 26, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    Used for stitches. Maybe that is the reason we have painful scar tissue from the stitches inside our body after surgery!

    • Kitty August 26, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

      that is very astute of you Robert

  8. Pam August 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Is there any reason why the Jury isnt allowed to see a removal video or the removal of a TVT-O Sling? Possibly give details of the erosion, and other complications that it’s causing? Show proof of the damaged nerves in the Pelvis that can only come from the TVT-O, and have families, work associates, and friends testify as to what it has done to the victims.

    I think it would be beneficial for Jury’s understanding as to what the TVT-O is doing to women today?

    • Kitty August 26, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Hello Pam—by your writing —you probably are not my old mesh desk friend that I miss so much. But whoever you are Pam—you have a point Did you not know the explant was not preserved and saved Why not? Oh Jo my prayers are with you and what you are suffering.

  9. Anonymous August 27, 2014 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I had Gynecare TVT in. Two surgeries to remove. The ‘foreign body response’ is real.

    I felt something was severely wrong at about three days after inplant surgery.

    Chronic inflammatory response is NEVER ENDING!

    I still HAVE it and photos to prove even after mesh removal.

    My lower pelvic and abdomen are always inflamed. It is disgusting, grotesque and painful.

    It destroyed my entire life.

    To those who had complete mesh removal go to a PT with pelvic floor expertise (ChineseMedicine)

    Even with that, the pain comes and goes but I have had it confirmed by PT and doc, it will never go away.

    I was injected with steroids into the lower pelvic area three times before surgeries to get SEVERE pain relief.

    I was injected with other meds directly in my vagina pelvic floor and got a few months relief.

    The PAIN is chronic and warranted disability.

    The pain is in my lower pelvic and shoots into my leg and back to where I cannot walk.

    • Kitty August 27, 2014 at 9:34 am - Reply

      That says it all

  10. Diane Fichter August 27, 2014 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Regarding the Dr being paid, it’s called, “CASH OVER CARE” in my household!!!! No one gives a rats patootie what has happened to those of us who were lucky enough (cough cough) to be implanted with this wonderful Polypropylene Product!!!! It’s always about the “almighty” dollar…there’s not enough money in the world that will ever replace what has been taken from those of us with mesh…homes, jobs, families, relationships, dignity, self esteem….just to name a few!

    Do the right thing J&J, own up to the fact you screwed up, big time!!!!!

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