March 17, 2015 — A California jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit to pay $5.7 million to a woman who was permanently injured by TVT Abbrevo, a type of vaginal mesh.
The woman, Colleen Perry, was awarded $700,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. Lawyers claimed the Abbrevo is an older, heavier version of a vaginal mesh product and it will cause her a lifetime of pain, according to Law360.
Just days after the decision, Johnson & Johnson settled a “bellwether” trial in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in federal court in West Virginia. The plaintiff, Diane Bellew, agreed to an undisclosed settlement on the fifth day of trial.
The outcome of a “bellwether” trial is supposed to help attorneys reach a settlement or other resolution for cases with similar facts and legal questions. However, details of the settlement were not disclosed.
Johnson & Johnson is still facing over 23,500 vaginal mesh lawsuits, according to an update (PDF) released yesterday by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML).
Manufacturers have had some success in defending the safety of mesh products, but most cases that have gone to trial have ended in multi-million dollar losses, including punitive damages designed to punish manufacturers for negligence.
The federal judge overseeing more than 60,000 lawsuits in seven MDLs is pressuring device-makers to “kick it into high gear,” and resolve the litigation, or face “potentially billions of dollars in verdicts.” The litigation has been pending in his court for over three years now.
All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that vaginal mesh is a defective product that can cause erode through the vaginal wall and cause infections, nerve damage, disfigurement, chronic pain, bleeding, incontinence, and other complications that require revision surgery. In 2011, the FDA said complications were “not rare.”
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