Girardi | Keese

Plaintiff awarded $73 M in lawsuit over dangerous vaginal mesh

Imagine being forced to live with a dangerous and defective product that you could not dispose of and couldn't even stop interacting with. This is effectively the fate of countless Americans who are implanted with a defective medical device. Not only can these dangerous devices cause serious and permanent health problems, but removing them from the body can require multiple surgeries - if they can be removed at all.

Several of the country's major medical-device manufacturers are facing thousands of lawsuits filed by women who have been injured by a medical product known generically as vaginal mesh. In just one recent case, defendant Boston Scientific was ordered to pay $73 million in damages to a woman who now suffers from chronic pain and reduced mobility as a result of Boston Scientific's "Obtryx sling."

Vaginal mesh products are dangerous because they can partially erode inside the body, causing pain and internal injuries. According to her attorney, the plaintiff can no longer walk or exercise normally. She can't even sit comfortably. The attorney said: "This woman was seeking help with minor urine leakage and wound up with a catastrophic, life-altering injury that required four major surgeries. It's a tragedy that these slings are still on the market."

Other companies facing liability lawsuits include Johnson & Johnson and C.R. Bard. The substantial jury award in this case is somewhat unique. The jury was allowed to award an additional $50 million in punitive damages after finding that Boston Scientific's actions regarding the defective product rose to the level of gross negligence.

Although only a handful of cases have gone to trial so far, results have been mixed. Sometimes juries rule in favor of the manufacturers, and sometimes they rule in favor of plaintiffs but with smaller damage awards. Hopefully, this jury award is a sign of good things to come for future plaintiffs.

Source: Bloomberg, "Boston Scientific Ordered to Pay $73 Million Over Implant," Jef Feeley, Sept. 9, 2014

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