Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division, Boston Scientific Corp, C.R. Bard and four other transvaginal mesh makers are now facing one of the biggest U.S. mass torts in history, and U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin is urging them to resolve the more than 70,000 lawsuits filed against them.
A Major Break for Settlements
According to the judge, who is overseeing all federal lawsuits against the manufacturers, it would take decades to try the tens of thousands of cases and cost the company billions of dollars in penalties—far more than they would pay with a settlement. Just last month, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division agreed to settle its first few cases, while Bard, Ethicon, and Boston Scientific stand behind their defense, saying their transvaginal mesh inserts are not defective.
The companies have so far refused to join settlement discussions between lawyers and other manufacturers, and while Johnson & Johnson does not admit to any manufacturing faults, this may be a step in the right direction. One manufacturer commended by the court is Endo International, which has set aside $1.2 billion to cover transvaginal mesh settlements related to its own device.
“I’m going to kick it into high gear and ask that you do the same,” Goodwin said during a pre-trial meeting with the defendant device companies.
Lawyers from Ethicon, Boston Scientific, and Bard say that they will prepare hundreds of other cases for trial.
Transvaginal Mesh Lawsuits
Transvaginal mesh is used to treat incontinence and organ prolapse that generally occur in older women or women who have given birth. Once it is inserted, it is designed to hold up pelvic organs—but complications are common, and removal is incredibly difficult.
Such complications have left many women infected, in pain, and in some cases fatally injured. Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division pulled its Prolift insert off the market when women stated that it shrunk upon insertion and caused horrible pain during both intercourse and regular day-to-day activities. While other mesh products remain on the market, many women claim that they are just as poorly designed and tested.
While thousands of cases remain to be tried, many juries have found that women were not warned about the risks associated with the device and have been presented with less than encouraging documentation of the devices’ approval by the Food and Drug Administration. Potential side effects include:
- Erosion through the vaginal wall
- Debilitating pain
- Pelvic pain
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been piling up for years. In 2012, the FDA ordered major transvaginal mesh manufacturers to comb through organ damage rates after device insertion in a wake of initial lawsuits.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know has suffered injury from a device like this, you may be eligible to file a transvaginal mesh lawsuit. If you’re unsure how to proceed, it might be a good idea to speak with a lawyer who has experience in mass torts of this nature and can review your case to help make sure you’re successful moving forward. Some companies are only now beginning to make settlements, but many others are reviewing cases individually. If you’ve suffered debilitating pain or needed surgery to correct device-related injury, this is the time to participate in a class-action lawsuit.
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.