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J&J Ethicon Mesh Verdict $3.35M in Vaginal Mesh Trial

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An Atlantic City, New Jersey jury ordered a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) subsidiary to pay $3.35 million in the first of 2,100 lawsuits over its allegedly defective vaginal mesh implant. And will now consider punitive damages that may be as high as $16.75 million. Punitives are used to punish defendants for willful and wanton behavior. State law caps punitive damages at five times compensatory damages, or $16.75 million.

The jury found that J&J’s Ethicon unit failed to warn a South Dakota woman’s surgeon of the risks of its Gynecare Proflift vaginal mesh implant and fraudulently misled her. Linda Gross, aged 47, complained of constant pain and 18 operations she had after the device was implanted.

According to the jury, J&J, didn’t defectively design the mesh and didn’t make fraudulent misrepresentations to Gross’s surgeon.

New Jersey Verdict Breakdown

Jurors, awarded Gross $1.1 million for her pain and suffering; $180,000 for lost wages; $500,000 for future lost wages; $385,000 for past medical treatment; $1 million for future medical treatment; and $180,000 for her husband’s loss of companionship and conjugal affections.

Gross's attorney argued to jurors that company documents and e-mails showed Ethicon knew the mesh would cause pain and harm women. Gross blamed the mesh for constant pain that makes it hard to sit and for subsequent operations to remove the hardened mesh.

What is the Problem with I&J Ethicon Prolift Mesh?

The Prolift, is made of polypropylene and is inserted through an incision in the vagina. In August, J&J stopped selling four mesh devices in the U.S., including the Prolift. J&J, said in June that it would end sales worldwide because the products lacked commercial viability, not because of their safety and effectiveness.

Gross, from South Dakota, testified that her life has irrevocably changed since her mesh was implanted. Gross said she is in constant pain and can no longer sit comfortably, and she has prescriptions for 20 different medicines to help with her pelvic problems. According to Gross, she has had more than 400 visits to doctors and physical therapists for treatment, exams and tests, which have been “horrific.”

The trial, began Jan. 10, and jurors heard from 11 company witnesses and several experts on each side. The case is Gross v. Gynecare Inc., Atl-L-6966-10, Superior Court of Atlantic County, New Jersey (Atlantic City).