W.V. Jury Awards $3.27M in Pelvic Mesh Suit Against Ethicon
National Law Journal (September 5, 2014), by Amanda Bronstad — West Virginia jury has awarded $3.27 million to a woman who underwent surgery to remove a pelvic mesh device made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon Inc. The closely watched case, brought by Jo Huskey and her husband, Allen Huskey, is the first federal trial over Ethicon’s TVT-O pelvic mesh sling.
“As the first federal trial over TVT-O device, we expect it will have a significant impact on the litigation and hope that it will lead to the resolution of the claims that have been brought on behalf of women,” Edward Wallace, partner at Chicago’s Wexler Wallace, said about the verdict.
The jury, which awarded exclusively compensatory damages, found against Ethicon on claims of failure to warn, design defect, pain and suffering and past medical expenses. The jury’s award also included $200,000 to Huskey’s husband for loss of consortium.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said Ethicon would challenge the verdict through post-trial motions.
“The verdict is disappointing and we believe we have strong grounds for appeal,” Ethicon spokesman Matthew Johnson said. “Ethicon’s TVT-O mid-urethral sling was properly designed, and Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product. We have always made patient safety a top priority and will continue to do so.”
Ethicon faces 33,000 lawsuits worldwide claiming its mesh devices, used to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, have caused women pain and forced them to undergo subsequent surgeries to remove them.
On April 3, a jury in Dallas, hearing a case in Texas state court, awarded $1.2 million in the first trial over the TVT-O sling.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin of the Southern District of West Virginia, overseeing most of the cases in Charleston, threw out the first pelvic mesh trial in federal court against Ethicon on Feb. 19 involving another device, the TVT.
Johnson & Johnson also lost an $11 million verdict in New Jersey state court last year in a case over a different device.
In West Virginia, Ethicon was represented at trial by Christy Jones of Butler Snow in Ridgeland, Miss., and David Thomas, founding member of Thomas Combs & Spann in Charleston.