NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–In September, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $5 million to settle a Garden State pelvic mesh lawsuit with a woman who required multiple surgeries to remove the material from her body, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The woman, Pamela Wicker claimed that Ethicon’s Prolift mesh crumbled and decayed inside her causing sex to be painful, thus needing “multiple surgeries.”
Ethicon is the J&J subsidiary which manufactured the vaginal-mesh insert, a medical device used to treat incontinence.
We don’t know how much money J&J has paid out to settle similar vaginal-mesh lawsuits, because they are confidential.
“The accord was made part of the public record when the [woman’s] lawyer asked a judge [in Hackensack, New Jersey] to approve his legal fees in the case,” writes Bloomberg’s Jef Feely and David Voreacos.
Hub City-based J&J, the world’s largest consumer company, said the case “presented unique circumstances,” according to a statement.
“While the estimated cost of the mesh litigation isn’t broken out, ‘the company appropriately discloses overall litigation expenses,’” reads the Bloomberg report.
The company is up against about 46,000 similar cases reports Bloomberg, citing J&J’s regulatory filings. And judges in both the Garden State and West Virginia are reportedly “pressing the company to resolve them.”
“This settlement is a bad sign because it shows investors it’s going to cost a lot more to deal with this liability than people expected,” Carl Tobias, a law Professor, who teaches product-liability at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told Bloomberg.
“From time to time we have agreed to resolve some cases,” said J&J. “We will not discuss the terms of resolutions, nor discuss our ongoing litigation strategy.”
Prior to this settlement, Wicker's lawsuit was viewed as the second indicator or predictor-type case “that would help resolve the 8,700 such claims filed in New Jersey, according to court filings,” according to Bloomberg.
The report adds that the first indicator case culminated with an $11.1 million jury verdict against J&J.
“J&J faces the most claims, and began pulling some product lines off the market in 2012 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ordered manufacturers including J&J, Boston Scientific Corp. and C.R. Bard Inc. to study injury rates,” writes Bloomberg.
“In January, FDA officials tightened regulations after finding the inserts should be classified as higher-risk products when used to shore up organs.”
The woman’s attorney, Adam Slater, is apparently not cheap to retain. His legal fee was $1.65 million, according to the court filing in Hackensack.