Ethicon Faces Sixth Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuit Trial in Pennsylvania

Published on August 29, 2017 by Sandy Liebhard

A Pennsylvania jury has been convened to hear yet another transvaginal mesh lawsuit involving a device manufactured by Ethicon, Inc.

According to her complaint, Ella Ebaugh was implanted with Ethicon’s TVT-Secur sling in 2007, at the age of 39, to treat stress urinary incontinence. In July 2007, she underwent corrective surgery due to mid-urethral erosion, at which time she was implanted with a different TVT product. (Case No. # 130700866)

Ebaugh was forced to undergo another corrective surgery due to complications in June 2011. She underwent a third corrective procedure the following March, at which time several strands of mesh were removed from her urethra.

Ebaugh says she continued to experience complications, forcing her to undergo a fifth surgery just last year.

Like other women pursuing transvaginal mesh lawsuits, she alleges that Ethicon’s TVT devices were defectively designed, and claims that the company failed to warn doctors and patients about their potential risks.

“These defective products have literally mangled Ella Ebaugh’s urethra,” the plaintiff’s attorney told jurors during August 4th opening statements in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  “Pain, incontinence will cause her to suffer with this for the rest of her life.”

Philadelphia a Favorable Venue for Transvaginal Mesh Plaintiffs

Transvaginal mesh implants are intended to treat women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. However, reports linking the devices to thousands of serious injuries and complications have prompted the  U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)  to issue several warnings regarding their use. Following years of investigation, the agency finally decided to reclassify transvaginal mesh intended for prolapse repair as a high-risk medical device.

More than 55,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed nationwide on behalf of women who allegedly suffered severe and life-changing complications due to Ethicon’s products. Trials have been convened in various states, with plaintiffs and the defendants each scoring victories, while a small number of cases have settled outside of court.

The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has been especially favorable to Ethicon transvaginal mesh plaintiffs, as four previous juries have ordered the company to pay damages ranging from $2.16 million to $20 million.

Ethicon’s sole victory came in June, when another TVT-Secur plaintiff was denied damages after the jury hearing the case determined that the implant was not responsible for her injuries. However, they did find that the transvaginal mesh device was defectively design. Ethicon’s win could be short-lived, however, as the court agreed to grant the plaintiff a new damages hearing after she filed a post-trial motion arguing that the jury’s verdict was inconsistent with the evidence.

In 2012, Ethicon announced it would end sales of TVT-Secur mesh and three other transvaginal mesh devices, citing commercial concerns rather than safety reasons. However, the FDA had previously ordered Ethicon and other vaginal mesh manufacturers to conduct further research into the risks associated with their products.

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