Jury Awards Plaintiff $5.7 Million Over Sling Mesh Incontinence Implant

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of drugs and medical devices among other products, was ordered by a Jury in California to pay $5.7 million. The drug manufacturer was sued by a woman who claimed one of the company’s Abbrevo vaginal-mesh implants eroded inside her, cause her to undergo surgery to remove the device. This was the first verdict over the Abbrevo mesh sling device and the first to find J&J at fault.

After deliberating for more than three days, jurors in the California state court that J&J’s Abbrevo mesh sling was defectively designed. The jury also found that J&J officials failed to properly warn doctors and consumers about the device’s risks. The Jury’s was consisted of $700,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The mesh sling, created in 2010 to treat incontinence in women was, was part of a market expected to surpass $1.7 billion by 2017. In spite of the verdict, J&J plans to appeal, claiming it did not mishandle the device. More specifically, J&J officials claimed the TVT Abbrevo sling was properly designed and Ethicon acted fittingly in the research, development and marketing of the sling.

The current litigation against J&J for its Ethicon mesh sling totals over 30,000 lawsuits. As in the suit above, these lawsuits claim Ethicon improperly designed the vaginal inserts, which damaged women’s organs and caused incontinence and sex issues. J&J is not alone in manufacturing mesh devices, there being more than twenty other manufacturers. Johnson & Johnson freely decided to remove four lines of mesh product from the market, including its Prolift implant. It does however continue to sell the Abbrevo sling among other sling lines. The company decided to stop selling four lines of mesh products about six months after regulators ordered over twenty manufacturers of mesh devices to study organ damage and other adverse health issues alleged to be caused by the products.

Many of the vaginal-mesh cases against implant manufacturers, including J&J, have been consolidated in Federal District Court in West Virginia. At this point in the litigation a few of the manufacturers, including Boston Scientific Corp., and C.R. Bard Inc. have engaged in settlement talks. J&J on the other hand, has declined to participate in settlement talks about its products.

At Rheingold, Giuffra, Ruffo & Plotkin LLP we are involved in suits against Johnson & Johnson regarding mesh and sling products, DePuy ASR hip implants, DePuy Pinnacle hip implants, Levaquin and OrthoEvra.

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