A state appeals court in Pennsylvania yesterday upheld the plaintiff’s $13.7 million win in a product liability lawsuit brought over one of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary Ethicon‘s pelvic mesh products.
Plaintiff Sharon Carlino was awarded $13.5 million in damages in February 2016, after a Keystone State jury found that the Ethicon transvaginal polypropylene tape implanted during a 2005 hysterectomy was defective and that the company failed to adequately warn of its risks; Carlino needed three revision surgeries to remove the eroded mesh. That decision was upheld early the following year, with the court adding some $238,000 in delay damages.
Ethicon and Carlino cross-appealed, with the company pressing seven arguments seeking to overturn the decision and Carlino arguing that the delay damage award should have been calculated on both compensatory and punitive damages, not just the compensatory award.
Yesterday the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled on the cross-appeals, backing the lower court’s decision on all fronts, including Ethicon’s challenge to the punitive damages award and the delay damages ruling.
“Taken as a whole, and viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict winner, this evidence permitted the jury to find Ethicon acted with wanton and willful disregard of Ms. Carlino’s rights and that this conduct caused her injuries. The evidence showed that Ethicon knew that the TVT could cause permanent vaginal and muscular pain and sexual dysfunction, because of its mesh weight, pore size, pore collapse, and particle loss. Despite this knowledge, Ethicon promoted the TVT for patients who sought to fix SUI, knowingly understated the risks of the TVT in its IFU, and consistently misled physicians that the TVT produced few adverse results,” the Superior Court found.
“The evidence demonstrates that Ethicon knowingly understated the risks of the TVT in all six versions of the [instructions for use] published between 2000 and 2015. The IFU’s adverse reactions section did not change during that time, and it failed to acknowledge new information Ethicon was obtaining from treaters and its own researchers on adverse effects associated with the TVT. In addition, Ethicon consistently and misleadingly informed physicians that the TVT produced few adverse results and was intentionally evasive about common complications,” according to the ruling.
In January a Philadelphia jury hit Ethicon with a $41 million decision in another pelvic mesh suit brought over its Gynemesh, Prolift and TVT-O meshes. That verdict includes $25 million in punitive damages, $15 million in compensatory damages and $1 million for loss of consortium.
Ethicon has said it intends to appeal the decision and that it stands by its pelvic mesh products.