(Reuters) – A federal jury in Miami began today to weigh whether Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) is liable to 4 women who say they were injured by the company’s transvaginal mesh devices in 1 of the 1st federal trials in thousands of suits over the devices.
In closing arguments at the end of the eight-day trial, Shelley Hutson, a lawyer for the women, said Boston Scientific rushed dangerous products to market without performing adequate testing to fully understand the risks they posed.
"If Boston Scientific told the physicians the truth, we wouldn’t be here today," she told jurors.
But a lawyer for Boston Scientific, Hildy Sastre, denied the mesh products were dangerous and said the company had fully warned doctors about potential complications associated with the devices, particularly in the plaintiffs, who she said suffered from significant health problems.
"There is no such thing as a risk-free surgery," Sastre said.
The group trial is 1 of 2 that began last week against Boston Scientific. The Miami trial involves claims from women who were implanted with the company’s Pinnacle device to treat pelvic organ prolapse. The Miami jurors are weighing whether Boston Scientific is liable to the women and, if so, how much the company owes them for injuries such as pain, bleeding and infection.
If jurors decide the company is liable, they will also determine whether the company must pay punitive damages, although the amount of that award, if any, will be determined separately.
The other trial, in West Virginia, concerns claims from 4 women over the Obtryx, which treats stress urinary incontinence. That trial is ongoing.
The 2 trials are the 1st in more than 14,000 federal lawsuits against Boston Scientific that have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin in the Southern District of West Virginia. Goodwin, who is handling the Miami trial, is overseeing more than 60,000 mesh lawsuits against 7 manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson‘s (NYSE:JNJ) Ethicon unit and C.R. Bard (NYSE:BCR).
The outcome of these trials will serve as a "bellwether," or test, for other cases, and help both sides assess the value of the claims. The company previously faced 3 trials in state courts, winning 2 and losing a 3rd, in which it was ordered to pay $73 million in damages, later reduced to $34 million.