CHARLESTON, WV—On September 5, an eight-member federal jury ordered Johnson & Johnson's Ethicon division to pay $3.27 million to a woman who blames a defective vaginal-mesh implant for injuries.
The woman, Jo Huskey, says Ethicon’s TVT-O mesh sling eroded inside of her and caused the need for surgery. The sling is marketed and sold as a treatment for incontinence.
After a two week trial, the jurors found that J&J officials defectively designed the sling and failed to properly warn doctors and patients the device could erode, damaging organs and causing pain, Bloomberg News reported.
“We are pleased the jury understood innocent people should not be suffering because of Ethicon’s negligence,” said Fidelma Fitzpatrick, the lead attorney for Huskey.
Other manufacturers of vaginal inserts including Boston Scientific Corporation are also being sued over the devices. Those manufacturers have participated, this year, in talks about settling the cases with the injured women. But J&J has refused to take part in the settlement talks.
J&J says that it will appeal the $3.27 million judgment.
“The verdict is disappointing and we believe we have strong grounds for appeal,” said Ethicon spokesperson Matthew Johnson in an e-mailed statement.
“Ethicon’s TVT-O sling was properly designed, and Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product.”
In closing arguments, Fitzpatrick said: "What’s wrong with this mesh? It’s where Ethicon designed to put it in a human body. So it’s not just that the body tries to push it out, it’s that Ethicon chose to put it in a space where they knew surgeons don’t operate. They knew surgeons couldn’t get it out," according to MeshMedicalDeviceNewsDesk.com.
“It’s hard to understand how Ethicon can say it’s safe and effective when their own medical director says its ill conceived and unsafe for women. I don’t think you need to know any more when you go back to deliberating.”
“This verdict is critically important to women and their families from across the US who have needlessly suffered from injuries related to pelvic mesh implants,” said Jane Akre, a journalist who has provided coverage of the trial and helped organize women negatively affected by J&J products.
“The decision for Mrs. Huskey is a crucial step in holding the largest manufacturers of these devices accountable for the damage they have done to tens of thousands of women by continuing to manufacture, market, sell – and most importantly – profit from these products,” Akre added.
J&J’s most recent quarterly report shows that the company is up against 33,000 pending lawsuits over its pelvic mesh devices.