Victory declared as jury awards over $11 million in Prolift mesh case against Johnson & Johnson
A jury finally delivered its verdict on punitive damages after days of deliberation at the end of a month-long trial which came to a close on 28th February 2013. The nine jurors in the New Jersey court awarded $7.76 million in punitive damages to the plaintiff Linda Gross, a 47-year-old nurse from South Dakota.
Days earlier the jury had awarded Gross and her husband over $3 million in compensation after they found Johnson & Johnson guilty of both failing to warn her surgeon of the risks of its Gynecare Prolift implant and fraudulently misleading her about the risks. However, the jury ruled that J&J did not defectively design the mesh and did not make fraudulent misrepresentations to Gross’s surgeon.
Linda Gross claimed the Prolift mesh implant was the cause of multiple medical problems and pain plus 18 remedial surgeries since she had the Prolift fitted in 2006 to correct a pelvic organ prolapse. Linda still complains of chronic debilitating pain and has been unable to return to her employment.
The plaintiff’s legal team argued that J&J had known about problems with the Prolift mesh but failed to adequately warn about potential problems and risks in their literature and instructions for use.
The jury awarded $3.35 million in compensation for loss of earnings, medical expenses and husband’s loss of companionship. Punitive damages brought the total award to over $11 million.
Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendants, Johnson & Johnson, and deter them from acting in a similar way in future. Jurors were asked by Linda Gross’s attorney to take into account how much money J&J, the world’s largest seller of healthcare products, has and to give them a ‘loud message’. Johnson & Johnson have made millions of dollars in profit from the sale of the Prolift mesh since its launch in 2005 and have assets of over $121 billion.
Adam Slater said, “Linda Gross cannot turn back the clock and make her misery and pain disappear,” but he remarked that the jury had decided that J&J and its Ethicon subsidiary “should be severely punished financially.”
This was the first of over 2,000 cases listed in the New Jersey courts against Ethicon and J&J and could have an impact on thousands of lawsuits pending against other manufacturers of transvaginal mesh products.
The company’s financial shares appear to have been little affected by the outcome of the trial.
Johnson & Johnson have announced that it would be appealing against the verdict.
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