Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Jury awards $3.27M in second vaginal-mesh lawsuit

Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a jury to pay $3.27 million to a woman who said a defectively designed vaginal-mesh implant eroded inside her and she had to have surgery.

Jurors in federal court in West Virginia concluded on Friday that J&J’s Ethicon unit was liable for Jo Huskey’s injuries, which she blamed on the company’s TVT-O mesh sling, according to the company. The sling is sold as a treatment for incontinence.

“We are pleased the jury understood innocent people should not be suffering because of Ethicon’s negligence,” Fidelma Fitzpatrick, Huskey’s lawyer, said in a phone interview.

It’s the second jury finding that J&J’s incontinence slings are defectively designed and harmed women. J&J, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, faces more than 30,000 lawsuits accusing Ethicon of making improperly designed vaginal inserts, such as the slings, that damaged women’s organs and made sex painful. The company reported the number of cases in a securities filing last month.

In April, a jury in state court in Dallas concluded the design of the TVT-O sling implanted in Linda Batiste was flawed and that the 64-year-old deserved $1.2 million in compensatory damages. The TVT-O sling remains on the market.

“The verdict is disappointing and we believe we have strong grounds for appeal,” Matthew Johnson, Ethicon’s spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “Ethicon’s TVT-O sling was properly designed, and Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product.”

Many of the vaginal-mesh cases against J&J and other implant makers have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia, for case-information exchanges and bellwether trials. Goodwin presided over the trial of Huskey’s suit.

During the trial, Goodwin ruled Huskey couldn’t seek punitive damages against J&J over the device maker’s handling and marketing of the product.

The case is Huskey v. Ethicon, 12-cv-05201, U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston).

Jurors found that J&J officials defectively designed the sling and failed to properly warn doctors and patients the device could erode, damaging organs and causing pain.

Boston Scientific Corp., C.R. Bard Inc. and other makers of vaginal inserts targeted in suits had talks this year about settling cases over the devices, according to people familiar with the discussions. J&J has refused to participate in settlement talks about its inserts, the people said.

Two Massachusetts juries recently rejected women’s claims that Boston Scientific’s incontinence sling was defective designed and injured women. The company is fighting similar claims in a trial in state court in Dallas.

Huskey got her Ethicon sling in 2011 and had surgery to remove the device later that year after suffering pain that made sex difficult, according to court filings. Huskey is an assistant physical therapist from Illinois.