Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit properly designed a vaginal mesh implant and adequately warned consumers of its risks, a lawyer for the company told jurors who are about to decide on a lawsuit filed by a woman who blames the device for her 18 surgeries. According to a Bloomberg news report, the lawyer urged jurors in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to reject a product liability lawsuit filed by Linda Gross who maintains that Ethicon’s design of the Gynecare Prolift transvaginal mesh implant was defective. Gross also claims in her lawsuit that J & J failed to warn her and her doctor of the risks involved. Gross’s lawsuit is the first of 1,800 mesh lawsuits to go to trial.
Addressing jurors during her closing arguments, the company’s lawyer said that Prolift has been “studied and studied extensively.” She claimed that it was not a defective or dangerous product and that doctors and consumers were well informed regarding the risks involved with the mesh device.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told J&J, C.R. Bard Inc. and 31 other manufacturers last January to study rates of organ damage and complications linked to vaginal mesh implants. In 2010, doctors implanted more than 70,000 such devices in women in the United States.
Gross testified during the trial that she suffered severe effects as a result of the implant and that the product was marketed to her as a safe one to repair pelvic organ prolapse with minimal risks. She had to undergo 18 surgeries, unsuccessfully, to remove bits and pieces of the mesh that disintegrated inside her. Like thousands of women, Gross suffered excruciating pain, infections and pain during sexual intercourse.
Her attorney told jurors that the decision to put the Prolift implant in her body, ruined Gross’s life to say the least. Her attorney argued that had Gross been informed about the risks and severe effects involved, she may have made a better decision about her course of treatment. Gross is still in such pain that she couldn’t even sit during her trial. She stood throughout the arguments, Bloomberg reported.
Justice for Victims
It remains to be seen what the jury determines in this case. If the jury awards compensatory damages in this case, they will then decide if Gross should receive punitive damages. This is a case that we are watching very closely because it could set a precedent for the 1,800 cases still pending in various courts. The women who have suffered unspeakable pain need to be given a voice. And hopefully, these lawsuits and trials will do just that.