A Dallas jury yesterday ruled that Boston Scientific‘s (NYSE:BSX) Obtryx pelvic mesh device caused Martha Salazar’s injuries, awarding her $73.5 million in damages in Boston Scientific’s 1st courtroom loss over the vaginal slings, according to news reports.
The Marlborough, Mass.-based medical device company is facing some 12,000 lawsuits in state and federal courts over its pelvic mesh products. Earlier this summer Boston Scientific won the first 2 of the lawsuits to go to trial in a Massachusetts state court. Salazar claimed that the Obtryx device, implanted in 2010 to treat her urinary incontinence, caused nerve damage, persistent pain and infection that her lawyer said prevents her from sitting comfortably and from normal walking or exercise.
The jury in the District Court for Dallas County found that the Obtryx sling was defectively designed and caused her injuries. Boston Scientific also failed to adequately warn patients and doctors of the risks of the device, the jury ruled. A finding of gross negligence set the jury up to levy $50 million in punitive damages, on top of a $23.5 million award for compensatory damages.
"This woman was seeking help with minor urine leakage and wound up with a catastrophic, life-altering injury that required 4 major surgeries," Salazar’s lawyer Dave Matthews told Bloomberg. "It’s a tragedy that these slings are still on the market."
The jury was shown an August 2000 e-mail from Boston Scientific executive Alex Robbins advising salespeople to suppress a BSX-funded study that found problems with the mesh used in the Obtryx device, the news service reported.
"I certainly wouldn’t hand this out to any physicians," Robbins wrote in the e-mail, according to Bloomberg.
Boston Scientific prevailed in the 1st cases to go to trial over the mesh devices, with Bay State juries finding that the Obtryx device was not defectively designed and that Boston Scientific gave adequate warning of its risks.