$11 million damage award in vaginal mesh implant case
In one of the first cases involving Johnson & Johnson’s vaginal mesh implant, a jury awarded a woman $11.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages for injuries caused by their Gynecare Prolift mesh implant. The vaginal mesh implant was supposed to provide support to the muscles of the lower abdomen and prevent the sagging of organs that occurs in some women after pregnancy.
Johnson & Johnson faces more than 2,000 lawsuits alleging that they sold a defective medical device. The women in this case claimed she experienced a “living hell” after the surgery to insert the vaginal mesh. She was forced to undergo 18 surgeries to repair the damage caused by the mesh and alleviate the pain she suffered after the initial operation
The mesh is inserted underneath the skin of the vagina, and is designed to allow the body’s tissue to grow into the mesh and this is supposed to prevent prolapse. Problems can occur when the mesh protrudes through the skin of the vagina and can cause significant pain.
The compensatory damages are, as their name implies, to compensate a victim for their direct costs associated with their damage. Punitive damages are to punish the wrongdoer for their behavior associated with the product or the trial.
Here, the jury appears to have punished Johnson & Johnson for their behavior in marketing the mesh for vaginal surgeries. The mesh, which had been developed for hernia surgery, had never been tested for use in the vagina before commercial sales began.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, “Damages top $11M against J&J in vaginal-implant lawsuit,” David Sell, March 1, 2013