The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, which can include incontinence, are unpleasant and debilitating for women.
However, hours of litigation in the court room have established that the pharmaceutical companies’ fix for these problems can cause even more serious complications for women with this complaint. Problems that have come to light with vaginal mesh inserts over the last few years mean many women have suffered twice and, in some cases their health has been destroyed.
I was, therefore, heartened to read about a jury verdict in Delaware on May 28 in which a State Court jury held that Boston Scientific Corporation must pay $100 million to 52-year-old Deborah Barba, who claimed she suffered permanent injuries from using the company’s vaginal mesh products. The award included $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages that were intended to punish the company. The jury’s award concluded a two-week trial.
The Boston Globe reported the 51-year-old former bank teller claimed the transvaginal mesh eroded after it was implanted, leaving her with a scarred vagina and a raft of medical problems.
The jury found that Boston Scientific made matters worse by engaging in fraud by “failing to alert doctors to the devices’ faulty design,” the Globe reported.
Barba had been implanted with the company’s Pinnacle and Advantage Fit inserts in 2009 to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. She endured two surgeries in an attempt to remove the devices and repair the many problems they caused. Even after the operations Barba said she still has portions of the device inside her and remains in chronic pain and unable to have sex. The jury concluded the mesh devices were defectively designed.
The verdict is significant because it is the largest against Boston Scientific and it is higher than the 2014 Texas verdict awarding $73 million in a case involving the company’s Obtryx sling. The jury was sending a strong message to the drug companies as well as watchdogs such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which license these products.
According to reports Boston Scientific won its first two trials involving its transvaginal mesh products but the latest verdict is the sixth against it and comes on the heels of the company announcing it would pay $119 million to resolve about 3,000 such claims. This one verdict far exceeds what the company said it would pay per claim and a Boston Scientific spokesperson has stated the company plans to file an appeal.
The verdict is also considerably higher than the $2 million a jury awarded a Georgia woman who was injured by a faulty mesh product in 2013. The jury ordered medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard Inc. to pay $2 million to Donna Cisson from Georgia who filed a lawsuit after suffering serious injuries caused by the Avaulta Plus vaginal mesh product.
The jury in Charleston, West Virginia heard the product had permanently injured Cisson, causing constant pain that requiring several surgeries to correct.
Back in 2012 the FDA ordered Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and more than 30 other vaginal-implant manufacturers to study rates of organ damage and complications related to the devices after the companies faced a wave of lawsuits over them.
Barba and other plaintiffs claim that inserts produced by Boston Scientific and other drug companies are made of substandard materials that shrink once they are implanted, causing organ damage and persistent pain. In June 2012, Johnson & Johnson pulled lines of such inserts off the market.
A staggering 70,000 mesh-insert cases have been consolidated before US District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston in West Virginia. Others have been filed in state courts across the country.
As Georgia personal injury lawyers we see numerous instances in which big drug companies have put profits before patient wellbeing. Medical devices such as artificial hips have failed with catastrophic results while pills such as Zofran, taken to reduce morning sickness, have been linked to birth defects in babies, Actos for diabetes has been linked to bladder cancer and Xarelto has been linked to uncontrollable bleeding.
Juries across the country are sending out a message to drug companies that enough is enough, but the defective drugs and devices keep coming.
If you or a loved one has been injured by Transvaginal mesh or any other surgical device, drug or procedure, call The Keener Law Firm for a free confidential consultation at 770–955‑3000.