July 28, 2014 — Johnson & Johnson has lost an appeal of an $11.1 million jury verdict in favor of Linda Gross, a woman who was seriously injured by vaginal mesh.
The decision was handed down by Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee, who oversaw the trial last February. Judge Higbee refused to reduce the punitive damages. She also refused to grant Johnson & Johnson another trial.
Linda Gross, a nurse from South Dakota, was implanted with Johnson & Johnson’s Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh. Unfortunately, it eroded into her body and caused devastating complications. She required 18 surgeries to remove pieces of the mesh and continues to suffer from chronic pain that interferes with sitting and sexual intercourse.
Her lawsuit was filed in 2008. In 2013, after a four-week trial, the jury voted 7-2 to award Gross and her husband $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.76 million in punitive damages. The jury found that Ethicon, the manufacturer of the Prolift, made fraudulent misrepresentations and failed to warn about serious risks associated with the implant.
In June 2012, Ethicon announced that it would stop marketing the Prolift and three other vaginal mesh implants. They cited changing market dynamics — not safety issues — as the reason behind the recall. At the time, Ethicon was facing thousands of lawsuits and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had requested additional safety studies.
Nearly 20,000 lawsuits were filed against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson. The cases were centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. A total of 60,000 lawsuits have been filed against manufacturers who sold similar products.
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