New Jersey Jury Deciding Fate of Johnson & Johnson Ethicon’s Transvaginal Prolift

One of the first transvaginal mesh cases to be tried to a jury is currently being decided by a New Jersey jury of 9.  The case of Gross v. Gynecare Inc., Atl-L-6966-10, filed in the Superior Court of Atlantic County, New Jersey (Atlantic City) involves the first lawsuit to go to trial over whether Johnson & Johnson’s (“J & J”) Ethicon unit properly designed a vaginal mesh implant and adequately warned of its risks. A panel of 9 jurors are currently deliberating.

The Plaintiff who is a nurse from South Dakota has sued Ethicon’s design over her Gynecare Prolift mesh saying that the mesh was defective.  She says that the mesh caused her to have 18 serious surgeries.

Linda Gross, the lady who suffered from the mesh device, told the jury that J&J failed to warn her and her doctor of the risks and made fraudulent misrepresentations to her.  Ms. Gross claims that her chronic pain and other health problems were risks Ethicon knew about before first selling the Prolift in March 2005, and that Ethicon knew the device caused pain and often became exposed through the vaginal skin.  The device also hardened in women’s bodies, caused severe pain, sometimes uncontrollable urinary incontinence and was difficult for surgeons to remove. The Prolift, made of a polypropylene mesh, was inserted through an incision in the vagina. Ms. Gross had multiple surgeries following the insertion of the mesh to repair it, yet she is still in pain.

J&J, the world’s largest seller of health-care products, claims Prolift is safe and effective, and Ethicon warned properly of the risks.

As jurors continue into their second day of jury deliberations they are discussing whether Prolift was defectively designed; if J&J failed to provide adequate warnings to Ms. Gross and her first surgeon; and whether J&J made a fraudulent misrepresentation to Ms. Gross?  If answering yes to any of those sets of questions, jurors would then consider damages for Gross’s pain, suffering, lost wages and medical expenses, as well as the changed/strained relationship with her husband.

The case is the first of 1,800 such lawsuits to go to trial. Ms. Gross is asking the jury to award $3.38 million for her lost earnings and her past and future medical expenses. She also seeks damages for pain and suffering.  Jury deliberations are expected to last for two to three days.

Jurors will consider the testimony from the surgeon who performed the surgery.  He previously testified that he no longer uses mesh for the type of condition that Ms. Gross had in 2006. He also said that while his conversation with Ms. Gross over the risks probably took 15 or 20 minutes, it now would probably consist of two one-hour discussions.

In the event the jury awards damages to Ms. Gross, the judge presiding over the case, Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee, will decide whether Ms. Gross can seek punitive damages from J &J. States vary on how they treat punitive damages; in New Jersey, punitive damages can be awarded up to five times compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is higher.

Regardless of what the jury decides, the fact is that in in August, J&J stopped selling four mesh devices in the U.S., including the Prolift.  The company, based in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said in June that it would end sales worldwide.

If you have questions about any mesh product or have had problems since having a mesh insert, you may wish to contact our Georgia Transvaginal Mesh Lawyers based in Atlanta, Georgia. We can further explain why we think the surgeons are not the source of your problems and pains and why Johnson and Johnson and other mesh manufacturers are responsible.  You can also reach us at 800-641-0098.

 

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