California and Washington state have filed lawsuits against Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson marketing subsidiary, for misrepresenting the risks associated with J&J’s transvaginal mesh (TVM) products. It should be noted that J&J already faces more than 35,000 lawsuits from patients suffering from serious and debilitating side effects associated with TVM.
The states of California and Washington are listed as the sole plaintiffs in their respective lawsuits. If the states win in a court verdict or J&J decides to settle the cases, women with TVM injuries may be eligible for compensation from the awards.
Attorneys General to grill device safety claims
Kamala Harris and Bob Ferguson, the Attorneys General for CA and WA, respectively, allege that J&J sold more than 54,000 mesh devices between the states under a false pretense of device safety.
“Johnson & Johnson put millions of women at risk of severe health problems by failing to provide critical information to doctors and patients about its surgical mesh products,” said Harris.
The California lawsuit claims that J&J:
- Misrepresented and omitted safety and efficacy information concerning the TVM products;
- Deceptively marketed the products to patients and doctors; and
- Violated the state’s Unfair Competition and False Advertising Laws for an indeterminate number of years.
“It’s difficult to put into words the horrific injuries and pain many women are still suffering as a result of Johnson & Johnson’s deception,” said Ferguson. “They believed they were making informed medical decisions, but that was impossible when Johnson & Johnson was spreading inaccurate information about its products’ risks.”
It is not clear if patients already pursuing their own lawsuits against J&J’s mesh products will be included in the states’ lawsuits or if those plaintiffs will be eligible for the resulting compensation. If you are already pursuing a lawsuit in California or Washington, consult with your lawyer about how the state lawsuits will affect your own.
J&J denies wrongdoing, juries not so sure
Ethicon, on behalf of its parent company, was quick to respond to the new state litigations. The company stands by its marketing practices and the research supporting the product’s safety.
Despite J&J standing behind their products and marketing, recent lawsuit verdicts have not been trending in the company’s favor. Linda Gross, a South Dakota woman who suffers ongoing pain and suffering from her Prolift mesh, won her $11 million lawsuit against Ethicon and J&J on allegations contradicting Ethicon’s claims. Gross said she would never have agreed to her Prolift implant—used to treat her pelvic organ prolapse—if she knew about the undisclosed risks she suffered from.
The jury found her surgeon innocent of the situation and instead blamed J&J’s negligence for providing risk information in the device’s packaging, which the surgeon relied upon.
The trial revealed that a French doctor who worked with J&J and helped develop Prolift had discovered the alleged erosive properties of the device in 2005 shortly before it entered the market. The doctor had sent an email urging J&J to revise the product’s documentation to include the warning information. However, J&J allegedly decided to not include the new warnings in Prolift’s packaging because, at the time of the email, the packaging was already approved and printing.
Gross’s jury based its decision partly on J&J’s choices to not delay Prolift’s release and to not revise its packaging information until 2008. Gross was implanted with her Prolift in 2006.
Protecting your legal rights regarding Mesh Products
If you had an Ethicon or J&J vaginal mesh implanted, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn about your rights in these lawsuits. Even if you live in states beyond Washington and California or you were implanted with a TVM device from a different brand, contact an attorney to learn about your legal options.