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Shezad Malik MD JD
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J&J Ethicon $7.76M in Punitives in Gynecare Prolift Vaginal Mesh Trial

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As previously reported here, Johnson & Johnson, J&J earlier this week was found negligent in its case on a defective vaginal mesh product liability lawsuit. The jury deliberated on the next phase of the trial regarding punitive damages. The New Jersey jury today found that J&J must pay $7.76 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff who previously was awarded $3.35 million for compensatory damages for her injuries.

The jurors in Atlantic City found for the plaintiff and decided to punish J&J, the world’s largest seller of health-care products. The verdict came in the first of 4,000 lawsuits to go to trial over J&J’s pelvic mesh, including 2,100 in New Jersey.

Plaintiff in Constant Pain and had 18 Surgeries

Linda Gross, a South Dakota nurse complained of constant pain and underwent 18 surgeries after J&J’s Gynecare Prolift was implanted to strengthen pelvic muscles. On Febuary 25, the jury panel found that J&J and its Ethicon unit failed to warn her surgeon of the risks of the device and fraudulently misled her about the risks.

J&J Ethicon will appeal

According to sources, Ethicon will appeal the punitive verdict today as well as the Febuary 25 compensatory award. J&J, based in New Jersey, claimed at trial that Prolift is safe and effective and that the company gave adequate warning of any risks associated with the device.

Expert Said that Prolift was subject to complications

In his summation, Gross attorney, Slater went through e-mails, memos and video depositions, including one of the device’s creator, Axel Arnaud. Slater said Arnaud contradicted Ethicon’s statement that Prolift posed “rare and small risks” of complications.

According to Ethicon, the company tried to teach surgeons how to minimize the risk to patients, and sought through “instructions for use” to warn of the risks.

In his summation, Slater said, “They stood in front of you and said we’re begging you. We’re begging you. Every single day Linda Gross begs to be out of the prison that she’s in of pain and all the things that have happened to her; every damn day. That’s human. That’s real.”

The case is Gross v. Gynecare Inc., Atl-L-6966-10, Superior Court of Atlantic County, New Jersey (Atlantic City).