Johnson & Johnson is feeling the pain after a jury awarded a Cinnaminson woman a total of $20 million in a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit claimed that Johnson & Johnson withheld known information about their defective pelvic mesh. The award represents a $2.5 million compensatory damage award in addition to $17.5 million in punitive damages. Engleman v. Ethicon is the name of the case, and a court in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas presided over the matter. Ethicon is the subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that made the device.
Many lawsuits About the Defective Pelvic Mesh
Johnson & Johnson defended the case as one of approximately 55,000 lawsuits against the company because of the defective pelvic mesh product. In the Engleman case, jurors believed that the pharmaceutical giant knew it’s mesh caused problems when used for vaginal repairs in women. The punitive damages are an attempt to punish the company for its actions.
Originally, the company produced the mesh to help boost and stabilize the pelvis. It was meant to help pelvic organs that sagged. Although intended and tested for use in hernia repairs, medical professionals widely used the devices for transvaginal procedures.
Patients Report Stabbing Pain and Other Problems
Procedures using the mesh often resulted in pain, suffering, longer healing times and even more follow-up procedures than might have been necessary using other treatment. The devices were prone to shifting, breaking and even infections. As Johnson & Johnson loses case after case, it’s clear the juries believe that the pharmaceutical company knew of the dangers of the devices but still allowed their continued use for vaginal procedures.
The Company Faces Lawsuits and Government Action
With so many cases to address, Johnson & Johnson has made efforts to settle some of the cases, but so far there haven’t been any large settlements to dispose of the cases in large numbers. The company has faced lawsuits from every corner of the United States. They also face lawsuits from state attorneys general in a number of states. These lawsuits allege that the company took affirmative steps to hide the risks of the mesh from medical professionals and the women who ended up receiving the device. Kentucky, California and the State of Washington are three states who want the company to answer directly to the government about the allegations.
Even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has gotten involved. They didn’t think the company did enough to warn patients about the dangers. They also wanted more safety studies to determine the exact risks. Johnson & Johnson has since withdrawn the product from the market completely rather than complete the studies.
Cases Continue Against Johnson & Johnson
Lawsuits over the mesh have cost Johnson & Johnson millions and counting. The New Brunswick, New Jersey company has already lost several lawsuits on the matter, and they’ve agreed to even more settlements. They reportedly settled one case alone for five million. The company won a 2015 Texas case about one of their mesh products, and they’ve filed appeals against some of the jury verdicts.
As more and more juries find for the plaintiffs and as millions of dollars in verdicts stack up, it remains to be seen if the company plans to continue to try these cases or work towards negotiated settlements. Previous efforts to reach agreeable settlements have failed, and several more cases are set for trial in upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily took at least four different types of mesh inserts off the market as many as five years ago. Injured patients continue to wait for their day in court as they seek compensation for their damages.
Learn more about Defective Medical Devices.