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Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay NJ Resident $15 Million

Ethicon Subsidiary Loses Second Vaginal Mesh Case in New Jersey Superior Court
Bergen County Court
Bergen County Superior Court Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On December 14, a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) subsidiary was ordered to pay $15 million to a woman implanted with its faulty transvaginal mesh product nine years ago.

Elizabeth Hrymoc, age 71, had sued Somerville-based Ethicon, whose parent company, J&J, has been located in the Hub City since 1886.

The award approved by the jury included $4 million in compensatory damages for the plaintiff, and $1 million for her husband, as well as $10 million in punitive damages.

“Unfortunately, her injuries are permanent,” Hrymoc’s attorney Adam Slater told Philly.com regarding the New Jersey resident’s predicament.

“One of the fundamental and horrific defects with this device is the inability to successfully treat complications, and Elizabeth is a clear illustration of what happened to countless other women.”

The jury reportedly ruled that Ethicon should have provided sufficient warning about the possibility of injury connected to the product and its thermoplastic polymer mesh.

The case marked the second pelvic mesh trial in New Jersey, just one of some 9,000 cases around the nation centering on J&J’s medical devices.

A few months earlier, "a Philadelphia jury awarded $57 million to a Pennsylvania woman who required three operations to remove the implants which left her chronically incontinent,” reported Philly.com.

Hrymoc's case was heard in Bergen County Superior Court, but J&J says they are appealing the verdict to a higer court.

“Ethicon intends to appeal this verdict, as we believe that the evidence showed that the company appropriately informed surgeons of pertinent complications and that the products were properly designed and studied,” said company spokeswoman Mindy Tinsley in a statement.

The first New Jersey case had resulted in an $11 million award that was upheld by the Appellate Division.  The company appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but they declined to hear the case.

Hrymoc “had two mesh implants made by the Ethicon division of J&J – Prolift, a large multi-armed mesh implant used to hold up sagging internal organs, and a TVT-O, used to support a urethra to treat stress urinary incontinence,” according to MeshNewsDesk, an online outlet which seeks to "investigate issues behind the headlines concerning medical devices and surgical mesh."

Only one of the two Ethicon products is still sold, with Prolift being quietly taken off the market in 2012, according to the report.

The jury determined that Prolift had been defectively designed and that the company failed to warn of its risks, and that it failed to warn of the risks of TVT-O, according to MeshNewsDesk's Jane Akre.

"Ms. Hrymoc underwent three revision/removal surgeries but the last one had to be stopped midway through because she lost too much blood and needed transfusions,” reported Akre.  “Now she lives with chronic pain, mesh erosion and dyspareunia. The arms of the Prolift were banded, evidence showed.”

“I want to talk about the women who have shown courage and resolve – this verdict is for them!” Slater told MeshNewsDesk.  "Elizabeth Hrymoc always made it clear she was going to trial for the other women still in the court system, waiting for their trials and settlements and for the opportunity to go to trial."

“This outcomes gives hope their time will come.”