Despite its best efforts, medical device maker C.R. Bard (NYSE:BCR) wasn’t able to reverse a $2 million bellwether jury verdict finding the company’s troubled Avaulta transvaginal mesh was defective and responsible for harming a patient.
The lawsuit, filed in March 2011 and concluded in August 2013, was the 1st trial of its kind to accuse Bard of design defects and failure to warn patients of the dangers of the Avaulta Plus device, a synthetic mesh for treating pelvic organ prolapse in women.
Plaintiff Donna Cisson, who filed the lawsuit with her husband Dan, said she experienced inflammation, "excessive scarring," pain, discomfort, erosion and other issues after a 2009 surgery to implant the Avaulta Plus device, according to court documents. She still has part of the mesh inside her body, as doctors weren’t able to fully explant the device, and she continued to experience pain through the time of the trial, Cisson claimed.
A West Virginia jury found that the mesh was defective, ruling that Bard failed to warn about the problems with the mesh and awarding Cisson $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages, a ruling that Bard attempted to overturn.
Bard moved, more than once, for judgment as a matter of law on several grounds, including its claims that the evidence provided in the case didn’t demonstrate that the Avaulta Mesh was defectively designed and that punitive damages are rare for such cases unless the defendant is found guilty of malice or willful misconduct.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin denied both Bard’s request to revisit design defect claims and failure to warn claims, and further wrote that "Bard acted with an entire want of care raising the presumption of conscious indifference to the consequences."
The ruling continues to be of consequence for Bard and other device makers still facing more patient injury lawsuits over pelvic mesh products. A raft of companies, including Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), Endo Health Solutions (NSDQ:ENDP), Cook Medical and Johnson & Johnson‘s (NYSE:JNJ) Ethicon subsidiary, are facing some 4,000 federal lawsuits over their mesh offerings.
Earlier this month Boston Scientific got a 2014 trial date for the 1st in its mesh lawsuits and a report surfaced that 5 accused device companies companies are looking to settle the cases en masse, with Ethicon the lone holdout.