A Philadelphia jury convened to hear evidence in Pennsylvania’s third transvaginal mesh trial has awarded $20 million to a woman who suffered life-changing injuries following implantation of Johnson & Johnson’s TVT-Secur device. The verdict marks the latest loss for the company in a high-profile products liability case.
According to Bloomberg.com, Margaret Engleman received TVT-Secur mesh in 2007 to treat stress urinary incontinence. She claimed that the mesh eroded in her body, resulting in urinary dysfunction and constant pain. The 56-year-old New Jersey woman has undergone a number of surgeries to remove the device, but shards of the mesh remain in her body. Her attorneys had argued that Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon, Inc. subsidiary had defectively designed the TVT-Secur product and failed to warn women and doctors about its potential risks.
Last Friday’s verdict came after three weeks of testimony, with a unanimous jury awarding Ms. Engleman $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $17.5 million in punitive damages. It was the company’s third loss in the centralized vaginal mesh litigation currently underway in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The proceeding is scheduled to convene three more Johnson & Johnson mesh trials over the next two months.
Nationwide, Johnson & Johnson faces more than 54,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits involving products manufactured by Ethicon. According to Bloomberg, the company has lost five trials since 2014, with jury awards totaling more than $35 million. Some trials have concluded in the company’s favor, and others have settled.
While Johnson & Johnson is appealing several recent transvaginal mesh verdicts, one legal expert opined that it could be time for the company to resolve this litigation.
“It would be silly to continue taking these cases to trial when they are losing,” Carl Tobias, a professor product liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, said. “There’s no sense in continuing to shell out for the defense costs and suffer the reputation damage that comes with each win by the plaintiffs.”
Johnson & Johnson’s legal woes are not limited to transvaginal mesh. Over the past several years, the company has been ordered to pay millions in lawsuits involving allegedly defective hip implants, talcum powder and ovarian cancer, and the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
In 2016 alone, Johnson & Johnson lost two trials over its DePuy Pinnacle hip implants, including one for $1 billion. The company was also ordered to pay $72 million, $70 million and $55 million following the conclusion of three talcum powder lawsuits that concluded last year in Missouri. And in July, another Philadelphia jury levied the largest-ever Risperdal verdict against Johnson & Johnson – $70 million – in a case involving the medication’s alleged association with gynecomastia.