Johnson & Johnson’s new CEO, Alyx Gorsky, will not be able to avoid having his deposition taken in preparation for the upcoming transvaginal mesh lawsuits pending before a New Jersey Superior Court.
The ruling came down July 19, 2012, one day before a landmark ruling in another mesh case in Bakersfield, California where Christine Scott was awarded $5.5 million against C.R. Bard over defective mesh. Bard must pay 60 percent while her surgeon is on the hook for the remaining 40 percent. Bard has announced it will appeal.
The decision to require executives to testify was made by the Honorable Carol Higbee a Superior Court judge in New Jersey who is overseeing more than 1,000 Ethicon mesh cases. Ethicon is a division within Johnson & Johnson.
Former J & J Vice Chairman and current Avon CEO Sheri McCoy, and Ethicon Franchise head Gary Pruden must also have their depositions videotaped as part of the discovery process for the litigation. McCoy is a chemical scientist who was vying for the CEO job which went to Gorsky in April.
Judge Higbee has also ordered executives’ computers be searched and any relevant information be turned over to lawyers for plaintiffs before the deposition are scheduled. Former CEO Bill Weldon will be deposed if there is any information uncovered in an electronic search of his computer that is relevant to the question of what executives knew about the complications concerning vaginal mesh and when they knew it.
While J & J lawyers argue that executives have little knowledge of the dangers of defective transvagainal mesh that does not seem likely.
CEO Gorsky was vice chair of the J & J Medical Devices and Diagnostics Group overseeing quality control over what would later lead to medical device recalls.
In April, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to compel the deposition of Mr. Gorsky in litigation involving Risperdal. He had been with Janssen, a division of J & J, which sold the antipsychotic illegally marketing it to nursing homes to be used on dementia patients. The company was fined $1.1 billion after the Department of Justice found it was hiding dangers of the drug and illegally marketing it for off-label uses.
Kudos to the Honorable Carol Higbee for making sure those responsible for the marketing, making, and distributing of transvaginal mesh take some responsibility for the thousands of injuries represented in this court and others.