Litigation

California Jury Awards $5.7 Million In Ethicon Pelvic Mesh Trial

  

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — (Mealey’s) A California state court jury on March 5 awarded $5.7 million to a plaintiff in an Ethicon pelvic mesh injury trial (Colleen Perry, et al. v. Ethicon Inc., et al., No. S-1500-CV-279123, Calif. Super., Kern Co.).

The jury in the Kern County Superior Court found that defendants Ethicon Inc. and Johnson & Johnson negligently designed the TVT Abbrevo pelvic mesh device, negligently failed to warn of the device’s risks and negligently misrepresented the device’s effectiveness and safety.  It also found that the defendants acted with malice, oppression or fraud and awarded punitive damages. 

The jury awarded Colleen Perry $100,000 for past medical expenses, $100,000 for past noneconomic damages and $500,000 for future noneconomic damages.  Punitive damages were $5 million. 

The votes on all counts were 9-3. 

Mesh Allegedly Hardened

Perry, 54, alleged that she was injured by Ethicon’s TVT Abbrevo device.  Perry says the sling was implanted in her to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. 

Perry alleges that the mesh in the device hardened and caused tissue erosion, including intrusion into her vagina that now makes sex with her husband impossible. 

Ethicon argued that it acted responsibly in designing the device and that Perry’s injuries were not caused by it.  It said the risks of the device are well-known and that Perry signed an informed consent form acknowledging them.

 Monthlong Trial

Judge Lorna Brumfield presided. 

Testimony began Jan. 26 and ended Feb. 26.  Jury deliberations began March 2.

 Plaintiff expert witnesses included Scott Guelcher, Ph.D., Michael T. Margolis, M.D., Peggy Spence, Ph.D., and Bruce Rosenzweig, M.D.  Defense experts included Brian J. Flynn, M.D., and Douglas Grier, Ph.D. 

Pelvic mesh devices consist of surgical mesh that is surgically implanted in the pelvis of a woman to treat pelvic organ prolapse of stress urinary incontinence.  Plaintiffs allege that the mesh can harden, shrink and crack, causing pain, inflammation, bleeding and infections and requiring surgical removal that is not always 100 percent successful. 

Pelvic mesh devices made by Ethicon and six other manufacturers are currently in litigation nationwide.  Some defendants have begun settling cases, while others are proceeding to trial. 

Counsel

Perry is represented by Thomas P. Cartmell of Wagstaff & Cartmell in Kansas City, Mo., Richard A. Freese of Freese & Goss in Dallas, Stewart Albertson of Albertson & Davidson in Redwood City, Calif., and Peter de la Cerda of Edwards & de la Cerda in Dallas. 

The defendants are represented by William Gage of Butler Snow in Jackson, Miss., Niles B. “Burt” Snell of Butler Snow in in Fort Washington, Pa., Soo Lin and Joshua Wes of Tucker Ellis in Los Angeles and Kim M. Schmid of Bowman & Brooke in Minneapolis.

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