The verdict, including a $17.5 million punitive damages award, was handed up April 28 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiff Peggy Engleman alleged that the TVT-Secur mesh she was implanted with to treat her stress urinary incontinence caused her injuries as it eroded inside her body after just 2 months. Engleman, who according to court documents eventually underwent 3 surgeries to remove the TVT-Secur mesh, alleged that the product was defective and accused Johnson & Johnson of putting it on the market despite knowing of its risks.
The company countered that Engleman had no evidence that Ethicon “failed to warn of risks not within the common knowledge of pelvic floor surgeons.”
“Under New Jersey law, a manufacturer has no duty to warn of risks that are within the common knowledge of physicians,” according to the documents.
Engleman’s attorney, Benjamin Anderson of Cleveland’sAnderson Law Offices, told Delaware Law Weekly that he believes the case turned for the plaintiff when a former J&J consultant learned on cross-examination of an internal study warning of the erosion risk.
“Their punitive damages award is a reflection, we believe, of how despicable this conduct was, how offensive this was,” Anderson told the newspaper.
“We believe the evidence showed Ethicon’s TVT-Secur device was properly designed, Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product, and TVT-Secur was not the cause of the plaintiff’s continuing medical problems. Therefore, we are disappointed with today’s verdict and feel we have strong grounds for appeal,” an Ethicon spokeswoman said in prepared remarks.
A jury in Philadelphia awarded plaintiff Sharon Carlino $3.5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages in February 2016, finding that the Ethicon transvaginal polypropylene tape implanted during a 2005 hysterectomy was defective and that the company failed to adequately warn of its risks. Like Engleman, Carlino eventually needed 3 revision surgeries to remove the eroded mesh. A Pennsylvania state judge in January upheld the verdict.
In December 2015, a jury in the same court added $7 million in punitive damages to the $5.5 million in compensatory damages it leveled against Ethicon in the 1st of the mass tort cases to go to trial in Philly.