HOUSTON – A federal jury has found that there was no defect in a pelvic mesh product when it left the possession of Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
Pelvic mesh lawsuits have been on the rise in recent years, with thousands of cases being bought, packaged and sold by trial lawyers.
In 2012, plaintiff Cheryl Lankston filed suit against Ethicon, seeking punitive damages.
Ethicon designs and sells medical devices, which includes the Ethicon Secur TVT sling – a medical device implanted to treat certain women for stress urinary incontinence.
Lankston claims her TVT-S device was defective and caused her permanent bodily injuries, significant mental and physical pain and economic losses.
The suit alleges the material in the device harbors infections and reacts adversely to human tissues, affecting patient health.
“Because of its numerous defects, the Product creates an unreasonable risk of injury and other adverse health consequences for patients, including … vaginal erosion, infection, extrusion, perforation, chronic pain and abscess,” the suit states.
“Prior to the time that the Product was implanted into Plaintiff, Ethicon was aware of numerous defects in the Product and the mesh… Despite being aware of the numerous defects and unreasonable risks in its product, Ethicon manufactured, marketed, and distributed the Product with the intent that it would be implanted in patients.”
However, when the jury was asked if there was a design defect in the TVT-S device when it left Ethicon, they answered: “No,” according to the verdict form, filed Nov. 9.
Lankston was awarded no damages.
A day prior to the verdict, Johnson & Johnson had argued to the court that Lankston’s design-defect claim fails because she cannot establish that a specific design defect in the TVT-S, rather than the TVT-S itself, caused her alleged injury or that a safer alternative design was available when the TVT-S was manufactured.
“Plaintiff has attempted to cobble together a punitive-damages case through company emails suggesting ways of improving the product,” states the defendant’s brief.
“But email after email, and witness after witness, show exactly the same thing: a company constantly striving to create a better, safer product to improve women’s health.”
Johnson & Johnson is represented in part by Curt Webb and Kate Skagerberg, attorneys for the Houston law firm Beck Redden.
The plaintiff is represented The Spencer Law Firm in Houston.