The recent $57.1 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson over its defective vaginal mesh devices did more than produce a large award for a plaintiff who suffered permanent injury. It also raised awareness among many more women across the country who may endure permanent and severe pain as a result of having the products surgically implanted.
“More women who suffered silently are realizing now that this is the issue,” said Kline & Specter, PC, attorney Kila Baldwin, lead plaintiff’s counsel in the case. “They didn’t know this was the cause. They thought they were experiencing a routine medical complication and didn’t know the products were defective.”
Millions of women worldwide have had vaginal mesh implants to treat urinary leakage or organ prolapse, with many reporting problems either immediately after surgery or in subsequent years. Some 135,000 have files lawsuits.
Baldwin said she has received numerous calls from women who sustained severe injuries since being implanted with vaginal mesh devices since the recent verdict in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, which included $7.1 million in compensatory and $50 million in punitive damages for Ella Ebaugh, 51 , of Manchester, Pa.
The TVT and TVT-S devices at issue in her case were produced by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon Inc., but problems have arisen with other mesh products made by Ethicon and pelvic mesh products made by other companies. The unanimous verdict was the fifth and largest multi-million dollar award against J&J in a pelvic mesh product lawsuit that went to verdict.
Ebaugh had two mesh devices implanted in 2007 to treat stress urinary incontinence. The devices seemed to work initially, but several years later the mesh eroded into her urethra, necessitating three mesh removal surgeries. She suffered various injuries, including extensive scarring to her urethra, intrinsic sphincter deficiency, chronic urinary tract infections, chronic pelvic pain, and dyspareunia, or chronic pain during sex.
The lawsuit filed by Kline & Specter claimed the mesh was defective and had a 15-20% percent rate of erosion. Evidence introduced during trial proved that J&J intentionally manipulated the literature regarding problems with the products and withheld information about complications and injuries from doctors.
So far, there have been five successful verdicts in Philadelphia involving vaginal mesh against J&J. Previous awards were for $12.5 million for an Indiana woman, $2.16 million for a Pennsylvania resident, and $13.5 million and $20 million, both for New Jersey residents. The latest was tried for the plaintiff by Baldwin and her co-counsel Tracie Palmer and Elia Robertson, also of Kline & Specter. There are thousands of vaginal mesh lawsuits pending against J&J across the country.
Kline & Specter handles not only vaginal mesh cases but also litigation involving various medical devices. The firm has more than 40 attorneys, including five who are also highly trained medical doctors, among them two OB/GYNs. Consultations are free. Call 215-772-1000.