With the year 2013 coming to a conclusion, one may feel that this year was generally favorable to the plaintiffs as far as the vaginal mesh lawsuits that went into trial are concerned. The decisions handed down by the juries of the different courts that heard these lawsuits were in favor of the plaintiffs, with the defendants instructed to pay damages.
The two vaginal mesh lawsuits resolved by the courts for the year 2013 were the following:
Linda Gross vs. Ethicon
A decision finding Ethicon, a business unit of Johnson & Johnson, liable for the injuries sustained by Linda Gross was handed down by the jury in February this year after a month of hearing testimonies from different experts. This lawsuit which was heard before the court of Judge Carol Higbee of the Superior Court of New Jersey was the first of the thousands of pending vaginal mesh claims under his jurisdiction.
A GYNECARE PROLIFT vaginal mesh was implanted on Linda Gross for her pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and after a few years, she started experiencing severe complications. Even with the 18 surgeries she has undergone, including the very complicated mesh removal procedures, she is still far from recovery. She continues to suffer chronic pain and has to maintain multiple medications to ease the pain and discomfort.
A total of $11.1 million representing compensatory damages of $3.35 million and punitive damages of $7.76 million was awarded to Linda Gross. The jury found, as stated in its verdict, that Ethicon failed to properly warn of the risks associated with the transvaginal mesh device and that it also made fraudulent misrepresentations to the plaintiff.
Donna Cisson vs. C.R. Bard
In the middle of August this year, the vaginal mesh lawsuit of Donna Cisson against C.R. Bard was concluded with a decision finding the defendant liable for the injuries suffered by the plaintiff. Included in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) under the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, this lawsuit was actually the first of four bellwether cases involving C.R. Bard.
A Bard Avaulta Plus Posterior BioSynthetic Support System was implanted on Miss Cisson in 2009 for the treatment of her pelvic organ prolapse. After only a few years, she started experiencing severe complications that resulted to mental and physical pain, permanent disability, and substantial deformity.
The jurors in this case declared that Donna Cisson was able to prove her claims that the mesh implanted in her was defective in design and that the defendant failed to provide adequate warning of the risks involved. The claimant, as a result, was awarded compensatory damages of $250,000 and punitive damages amounting to $1.75 million.
Impact Vaginal Mesh Decisions
For the year 2013, there would have been more vaginal mesh lawsuits going into trial but others did not push through for one reason or another. There were postponements in the scheduled bellwether cases and one claimant had to request the court for the dismissal of her vaginal mesh claim. Two other cases which were supposed to start trial were cancelled after C.R. Bard decided to settle the claims out of court.
The thousands of plaintiffs in the pending vaginal mesh lawsuits may have much to be optimistic about if these developments should be any indication. Legal observers have noted that these positive decisions may persuade the numerous defendants to settle pending claims instead of proceeding with the trials.