January 22, 2015 — Bloomberg News reports that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to settle four lawsuits involving vaginal mesh.
These are the first cases that have settled out of more than 23,000 pending against the company in state and federal litigation.
One of the settlements involves a case that was set for trial this week in Missouri. That lawsuit was filed on behalf of Joan Budke, a 77 year-old woman who was implanted with Ethicon’s Prolift mesh. It caused an infection that led to her death in 2009.
Johnson & Johnson has been hit with more vaginal mesh lawsuits than any other manufacturer. They own Ethicon, Inc., and Mentor Corp., two of the first companies to market vaginal mesh and pelvic sling products in the 1990s.
Yesterday, Mentor Corp. approved settlements in about 111 lawsuits involving ObTape. In September 2014, a jury ordered Ethicon to pay $3.27 million to a woman who was injured by the TVT-Obturator (TVT-O) bladder sling.
Most of the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have been consolidated in a federal court in West Virginia under U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin. Last month, he began pushing manufacturers to negotiate settlements rather than risk potentially billions of dollars in losses at trial.
Johnson & Johnson has been reluctant to come to the table, despite the fact that juries have consistently awarded damages to women who were injured by vaginal mesh, bladder slings, and pelvic tape. In 2013, a New Jersey jury awarded $11.1 million in compensation and punitive damages to a woman who was injured by Johnson & Johnson’s Prolift.
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