Clark, Love & Hutson, PLLC

Plaintiffs prevail in defective medical implant case

Surgical implants can do a lot of good, but if they are defective they can do a lot of harm. Many women in Texas and nationwide have had procedures to place pelvic mesh in their bodies. However, some types of pelvic mesh implants have proven to be defective, leading to painful injuries for patients.

Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has been ordered following a jury trial to pay $80 million in damages to a couple over the company's pelvic mesh product. Of those damages, $30 million were compensatory and $50 million were punitive.

The plaintiff in this case had surgery in 2008, in which the pelvic mesh product was placed in her. After experiencing bleeding following the first operation a corrective operation was performed, wherein it was discovered that part of the mesh had moved into the woman's vagina. Four years following that, the woman experienced more bleeding and pain during intercourse. She had a third operation to remove more of the mesh. In fact, between 2013 and 2017 the woman underwent three additional surgical procedures to remove scar tissue. To this day, the woman continues to experience chronic pain and damage to her family relationships. Lawsuits like this one claim that the pelvic mesh manufacturers knew the device was defective or should have known it was defective, but either intentionally or negligently did not notify physicians and patients that this was so.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an order in April that manufacturers of surgical mesh products stop selling them, since the manufacturers could not provide any "reasonable assurance" that these products were not dangerous. The FDA reports that women have experienced pain, prolapse, scarring and urinary issues due to the transvaginal mesh. The mesh is a permanent implant, meaning that removing it is challenging and can lead to further complications, including damage to other organs. Often, the mesh cannot be completely removed at all.

These types of lawsuits are important. Not only do they compensate those injured by the defective products, but they hold the manufacturers of these products accountable for their actions. No one should have to suffer complications from a medical device, but when these devices are defective, damages will likely occur. It is good to know, then, that it may be possible to file a legal claim for compensation for the damages suffered.

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