A jury in Philadelphia has handed a $20-million verdict, including $17.5 million in punitive damages, against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Ethicon, in what was the third pelvic mesh case to go to trial in the city. According to the Legal Intelligencer, this was also the third multi-million-dollar plaintiff’s verdict from Philadelphia’s pelvic-mesh mass tort program and the most recent in a series of large verdicts against J&J and its subsidiaries over a variety of products. This particular verdict included $2.5 million in compensatory damages and was awarded to a New Jersey woman who alleged she suffered life-changing injuries because of the pelvic mesh implant.
Serious Side Effects Alleged
The plaintiff, Margaret “Peggy” Engleman of New Jersey, said in her complaint that she received Ethicon’s TVT-Secur mesh to help ease symptoms of stress urinary incontinence. But, just within two months of getting the mesh implanted, her doctor discovered erosions in the material. The mesh erosion caused her chronic pain and she eventually had to undergo three separate surgeries under anesthesia to remove the material.
However, as many other women have alleged, it is often not possible to remove all of the material from the body. Portions of the mesh remain in Engleman’s body and she has developed severe pain and urinary problems because of that. Engleman alleged in court papers that the TVT-Secur is a product that was defectively designed and did not adequately warn consumers regarding the potential risks of side effects, particularly the possibility that the mesh would erode inside patient’s bodies.
J&J Held Accountable
Ethicon’s attorneys argued that Engleman offered no evidence that the company failed to warn about of risks. The company said in its memorandum that under New Jersey laws, manufacturers have no duty to warn of risks that are within the common knowledge of physicians. Engleman’s attorney told the Intelligencer he believed the turning point was when a former consultant for J&J learned for the first time while being cross-examined about an internal study that circulated within the company warning of the dangers of pelvic mesh.
As pelvic mesh attorneys who have represented plaintiffs like Engleman we are glad that the jury in this case imposed not only compensatory damages, but also punitive damages, sending a strong message to the manufacturer that their conduct is egregious and plain wrong. J&J should be held accountable for these dangerous and defective products that have caused disabling pain, anxiety and significant emotional distress to those who have endured its side effects.