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Toms River Woman Awarded $13.5 Million in Vaginal Mesh Case Against Johnson & Johnson

Jury in Philadelphia Opts to Include $10 Million in Punitive Damages
J&J
J&J headquarters in New Brunswick Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–On February 10, a Philadelphia jury found that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) manufactured a defective TVT pelvic mesh device, and awarded a Toms River woman $13.5 million. 

The award includes $10 million in punitive damages that J&J must pay.

The plaintiff, Sharon Carlino, now 58, had the TVT device implanted during a hysterectomy in 2005 at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, according to a report on Mesh Medical Device Newsdesk.

“The jury found the warnings to her doctor were defective and [Dr. Andrew Blechman] said he would never have implanted the transvaginal polypropylene tape he used to treat her incontinence if he had known of its risks,” reads the report.

But by 2007 she experienced feeling something “sharp” in her vagina because the mesh had eroded.

“After a partial removal surgery, in 2010 she felt the mesh eroding again and had a second removal surgery. By 2012 she felt pain and experienced dyspareunia or painful sex,” reads the report, adding that Carlino had a third surgery to remove the mesh.

Carlino’s complaint said she developed permanent injury, corrective surgery and experienced mental and physical pain and suffering. The complaint also cites her substantial financial and monetary losses as a result of a myriad of medical services and expenses related to having the plastic-like device implanted.

But, “at the same time [J&J marketed] their products as safe, effective reliable medical devices that are minimally invasive. Knowing the mesh had problems, J&J nonetheless sold it through ‘carefully planned, multifaceted marketing campaigns and strategies,’” says the report.

“They [Ethicon] rolled out the defense they’ve been using in mid-urethral sling case, after mid-urethral sling cases and this verdict shows those defenses don’t hold any water,” Attorney Adam Slater, who is said to have helped the team of Specter and Richard Freese, told Mesh Medical Device NewsDesk.

“The truth comes out in the courtroom...This trial shows is that these damages are meaningful to jurors. The defendant manufacturers have completely failed to convince any jury that the injuries caused by this mesh are mild and or acceptable.”

J&J recently paid $120 million, in its first large, multi-case mesh settlement, to stop as many as 3,000 lawsuits from going to trial. 

And in December, an Indiana woman who had a similar J&J mesh product implanted was awarded $12.5 million by a Philadelphia jury.

"The longer J&J waits to settle, the numbers are not in their favor. They don't seem to understand that," Jane Akre, the founder of Mesh Medical Device News Desk, told New Brunswick Today in an email.

"There will be more deaths, suicides, more information coming forward about the additives to the mesh which may be causing autoimmune reactions in some women."

Akre said that women are still being harmed by the J&J mesh products.

"Just in case the public has the wrong impression- mesh is still being used, doctors are telling women 'it's different mesh' or that's been taken off the market. That's not true," said Akre.

"Women are still being injured. Docs are still being schooled in how to implant mesh. And these are not minor injuries such as 'cant have sex'... I regularly talk to women sobbing on the phone, they cannot leave their beds, they are on Oxycontin or morphine, they can't work, husbands leave, they lose their homes."

"The situation really hasn't improved much except J&J and others have quietly removed some of the worst offenders from the market (and are exporting them elsewhere)," Akre said.

"If you look at Risperdal and DePuy hips, the stance is always to fight them one-by-one in court, until the day they settle," said Akre.  "So someone is watching and counting the risk versus benefit. Consider the recent restructuring of their medical device division, the benefit may not be exceeding the risk...and the risk is growing."

Attorneys who won the case wrote, “Cited in the latest case was a published study that noted a high incidence – 15.6 percent -- of mesh erosion in women. The two cases are the first of scores slated to be tried in Philadelphia.”