It was a year ago February that Linda and Jeff Gross of Watertown, South Dakota were awarded $11.1 million following their four-week defective pelvic mesh trial against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. This week the verdict was upheld in the product liability case.
Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee, who oversaw the 2013 trial, denied motions by J&J asking for a new trial. Doing so would have struck down the $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.76 in punitive damages. Judge Higbee also refused to reduce the punitive award.
Higbee reportedly felt there was enough evidence presented during trial to prove the Gynecare Prolift Pelvic Mesh kit implanted in Ms. Gross has caused her pelvic mesh complications which include chronic pain, infection, nerve damage, an inability to sit, to work and to function. Recall that the jury found by a 7-2 vote that J&J failed to warn her implanting physician about the complications of pelvic mesh and made fraudulent misrepresentation to Linda Gross about mesh dangers.
The amount awarded broke down to $500,000 for lost wages, $1.1 million for pain and suffering, $1 million for future medical costs, $385,000 for past medical costs and $180,000 for lost wages.
At the time of her trial, Ms. Gross had undergone 18 pelvic floor surgeries trying to have the permanent mesh implant removed. Two years ago, J&J quietly removed the Prolift Mesh Kit from the market. It is still sold overseas and on Ebay.
In a statement, Ethicon said it acted appropriately in bringing its Prolift pelvic organ prolapse repair kit to market and that “We empathize with all women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse (POP), which can be a serious and debilitating condition, and we are always concerned when a patient experiences adverse medical events.”
That might come as surprising news to women implanted with the J&J pelvic meshes. Ethicon is facing 5,957 product liability cases filed in the New Jersey court and more than 31,500 cases filed nationally, according to its SEC filing. The company is facing more lawsuits than any one of the other seven manufacturers. There are more than 65,000 cases filed in federal court in Charleston, West Virginia against seven manufacturers.
Additionally there are also 1,472 defective mesh cases filed against C.R. Bard in the same New Jersey court.
Ethicon plans to further appeal the Linda Gross verdict.