Attorneys for women claiming to have been injured by vaginal mesh implants created by Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division said in a recent 26-page court filing that employees at the company destroyed or misplaced vaginal mesh documents crucial to the cases, despite instructions from company executives to preserve them, Bloomberg reported.
The lawyers’ claim stated Ethicon employees lost tens of thousands of important documents related to its Gynecare Prolift implant over the course of a decade. The insert was still being marketed by J&J as an effective, permanent repair solution to pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Thousands of women have filed suits against vaginal mesh manufacturers claiming the devices caused them pain and further damage from eroding or shrinking. Bloomberg reported J&J stopped selling certain types of its vaginal mesh products last year. According to Law 360, the misplaced materials were relevant to current and future multidistrict litigation involving product liability.
“Ethicon’s document destruction has severely prejudiced the plaintiffs for the upcoming bellwether trials,” the filing stated. “Defendants should not benefit from the gaps in plaintiffs’ story that defendant created.”
Ethicon allegedly misplaced information involving former company officials and the development and regulatory approval of the devices. The hard drive containing the materials also included information about Ethicon’s communication with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and safety procedures, Law 360 reported.
Company Admits to Losing Vaginal Mesh Documents
An Ethicon spokesman admitted to not preserving the hard drive containing the materials, even though company officials were ordered to do so. According to the filing, some employees at the company didn’t comply with the order.
“Many employees did not understand that they were supposed to preserve documents or how they were supposed to do it,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said.
According to Bloomberg, the company stated it has already turned over documents to plaintiffs’ attorneys and has “an appropriate process” in place for how to preserve and maintain materials. However, because the company failed to maintain all of the documents, the plaintiffs’ attorneys asked that J&J not be able to use other defenses during the trial or be able to throw out lawsuits, Bloomberg reported.
J&J has recently been involved in multiple rounds of litigation regarding its transvaginal mesh inserts. Earlier this year the company was ordered by a state court jury to pay more than $11 million in damages to one woman claiming she suffered from pain caused by her Prolift insert. The company’s first federal trial regarding damage from its transvaginal mesh inserts is set for February.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.