Thousands of women affected by complications from implanted transvaginal mesh (TVM) devices are optimistic after learning of new victories in lawsuits against TVM manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific. These victories may hold hope for the thousands of more women waiting for their day in trial, though as one victim has revealed, victory may be bittersweet and ultimately delayed.
Sharon Carlino from Toms River, NJ was awarded $13.5 million in a Philadelphia lawsuit against Ethicon, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, on February 10. Carlino had transvaginal polypropylene tape implanted in 2005 which started eroding and causing her great pain. The permanent injury resulting from the device, along with the frequent and expensive trips to the hospital and her personal issues stemming from the side effects, are common complaints from over 40,000 women seeking justice in their lawsuits against the TVM manufacturers.
Teresa Taylor was awarded $4.4 million in a Georgia lawsuit against Mentor Worldwide, LLC, another Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, on February 18 for their defective transobturator vaginal sling product, ObTape, designed to treat stress urinary incontinence.
Paltry Early Settlements?
In January, Ethicon paid out a $120 million settlement to resolve between two and three thousand of approximately 42,000 cases made against them alone. This was a huge step in the right direction for Johnson & Johnson’s efforts to resolve this particularly large product liability litigation.
American Medical Systems, Inc. (AMS), formerly an Endo International plc subsidiary and now a Boston Scientific subsidiary, also paid out $1.6 billion for a multidistrict litigation involving over 20 thousand cases concerning their Elevate™ Anterior and Posterior Pelvic Floor Repair System and Monarc® Subfascial Hammock products in 2014. Payments to the victims are expected to be settled through to 2017 ranging from $40k to $250k based on a tier payout system gauging the severity of the victims’ medical claims.
One recipient of the AMS master settlement received her offer this year and was dismayed at how shockingly low her $9,000 award was. That award may not even cover the surgical costs of removing her TVM device, which is still implanted and continuing to pain her in more ways than physical. Should she choose to accept the money, she will be held financially responsible for any medical problems going forward. Should she reject the offer, Andrea could move toward another trial to aim for a more attractive payout.
Are product safety issues being dealt with?
As reported in our last entry on the FDA reclassifying surgical mesh as High Risk, TVM manufacturers are now required to document product safety and effectiveness through a Pre-Market Approval (PMA). This means that the manufacturers must, within 30 months of the January 4, 2016 effective date, comply with these new standards for devices already on the market, as well as gain PMA for any new devices. While this may help lessen future complaints, it is unclear if this will aid those with cases pending or potential cases.
If you or someone you know suffered from complications resulting from a surgical transplant of a transvaginal mesh device, you should consider consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney familiar with product liability laws to protect your legal rights.