A Philadelphia jury has awarded $12.5 million to a woman who alleged in a product liability lawsuit that a transvaginal mesh implant manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson left her with severe pain and requiring multiple surgeries. According to a news report on Philly.com, the lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson was brought by 65-year-old Patricia Hammons, a Wal-Mart stocker from Indiana, who said she suffered from serious health problems after receiving a vaginal mesh implant to treat her pelvic organ prolapse.
The jury awarded Hammons $5.5 million in compensatory damages for her ongoing health problems including inability to have sex due to excruciating pain and the need for multiple surgeries to fix problems caused by the device. The jury also awarded the woman $7 million in punitive damages to penalize Johnson & Johnson for marketing and selling an unsafe product. A spokesman for Ethicon, the J & J subsidiary that made the product said the company would appeal the verdict and maintained that their products are safe.
Key Testimony During Trial
One of the most pivotal moments in the trial was when Hammons’s lawyers got some damaging testimony from a product engineer for Ethicon on the lack of a backup plan if the implant failed. Although the removal of the implants is a complicated, and for the patient a painful and costly procedure, the engineer testified that the company never gave a moment’s thought to how the device would be removed if it failed or caused problems. In an earlier testimony, another expert described the process of removing a vaginal mesh device from a patient’s body as similar to a “train wreck.”
It also came out during the trial that J & J knew even before its product launch in 2005 that vaginal mesh implants had been associated with pain during sex. And yet, it was not on the product warning label. J & J raked in $108 million in sales of its Prolift mesh implant from the time it was launched in 2005 until it took it off the market in 2012, after tens of thousands of women complained about a host of negative side effects from vaginal mesh.
Holding Negligent Manufacturers Liable
Product manufacturers have a responsibility and a legal obligation to make items that are safe for consumers. In this trial, we learned that J & J knew that these products weren’t totally safe, that they could cause serious health issues for the women who received them. But, they didn’t even warn consumers about the potential side effects. They didn’t give consumers an opportunity to make an informed decision about what they should put in their bodies. As product liability attorneys who have represented several women who have undergone similar nightmarish experiences as a result of vaginal mesh implants, we commend the jury for making the right decision and holding J & J accountable for its negligence.