New Jersey Jury Awards $11 Million in Pelvic Mesh Mass Tort Suit

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Last year, a New Jersey jury awarded an $11.1 million verdict in the first trial over allegedly harmful pelvic mesh implants. Earlier this month, Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee denied motions by the defendants for a new trial and judgment that would have struck the jury award of $3.35 million in compensatory damages which consisted of loss earnings and long term life care medical costs and $7.76 million in punitive damages.

Linda Gross, the plaintiff in the case, sued Ethicon in November 2008, claiming she underwent 18 surgeries to correct injuries caused by a Gynecare Prolift mesh implant created by Ethicon. After deliberation, the jury found that Ethicon failed to warn Gross’ doctor about possible side effects and made fraudulent misrepresentations to Gross.

There are thousands of suits in the same vein as, In re Pelvic Mesh/Gynecare Litigation, Case No. 291 (ATL-6341-10). The mesh was created by Ethicon, a Johnson&Johnson subsidiary, to treat organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. It was designed for minimally invasive implantation. Plaintiffs, however, claim the products have a high failure rate, necessitate corrective surgeries, and cause serious complications. The products allegedly erode into organs, causing chronic pain, pain during sexual intercourse, scar tissue, and other injuries.

The jury’s compensatory damages award to Gross was made up of $1.1 million for pain and suffering, $1 million for future medical expenses, $500,000 for future lost wages, $385,000 for past medical expenses, $180,000 for past lost wages, and $185,000 for a per quod claim.

$680,000 of Gross’ compensatory damages were comprised of past and future lost wages. This significant award stemmed from the facts that not only did her overall health suffer from the mesh product, but she also suffered financially because of all the time she missed from work getting tests, lab work, and subsequent surgeries. The plaintiff used vocational expert helped establish these damages.

In the ensuing punitive damages trial, the jury awarded an additional $7.76 million. The judge noted that punitive damages claims are typically barred in pharmaceutical cases, but were allowed in this case because Gross’ injuries occurred before any FDA approval was obtained.

An Ethicon spokesman has stated that the defendants will be filing an appeal in this case. They believe the jury’s verdict and damage awards were not supported by the evidence presented at trial.

OAS

Edmond Provder, owner of Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS), served as the Vocational Expert/Life Care Planner on this case.  Mr. Provder is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and has worked extensive experience documenting the earning capacity, employability, and long term medical costs of injured plaintiffs in a variety of circumstances.   OAS works with both Plaintiff and defense attorneys to document the case damages.   Contact OAS at 800-292-1919 to discuss how we can help in your case.