A jury in Atlantic County, NJ, awarded 47-year-old Linda Gross $3.35 million for damages related to the Prolift mesh device from Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson. After having the polypropylene mesh surgically implanted in in 2006, Gross has undergone 18 surgeries. The jury concluded that Ethicon had failed to adequately warn Gross and her implanting surgeon of the Prolift's dangers. However, the jury unanimously found that the Prolift was not defectively designed, but found that Ethicon had made fraudulent misrepresentations about the product. The court is now in middle of a hearing about punitive damages and the judge is deciding whether to allow them. New Jersey law limits punitive damages to five times compensatory damages, which in this case would amount to $16.75 million.
The case represents the first verdict among the more than 1800 vaginal mesh cases that are pending in New Jersey against Ethicon. The verdict in the Gross case bodes well for the plaintiffs in these cases, says Rochelle Rottenstein, principal of the Rottenstein Law Group, a product liability law firm based in New York City. “All the women who’ve been hurt by Prolift vaginal mesh—and their surgeons—likely read the Ethicon Prolift marketing material that Linda Gross and her implanting surgeon relied on when they decided to go through with Prolift surgery, and the New Jersey Superior Court jury found that the material didn’t adequately warn the public and contained fraudulent statements.”
Of the $3.35 million jury award, $185,000 was awarded to Gross’s husband for loss of consortium. The remaining amount will compensate Gross for her past and future pain, suffering, medical costs, and lost wages.
While the jury did not find that the device was defectively designed, the Gross v. GyneCare Inc. case did reveal that there was internal disagreement at Ethicon regarding the choice of mesh used in the Prolift, which was based on Ethicon’s Gynecare PS product. During the case, Peggy Pence, PhD, a regulatory expert, testified that the volume and the shape of the Prolift mesh called into question the product’s safety and effectiveness. The device was pulled from the U.S. market last year.
If you have had a vaginal mesh procedure that resulted in physical, mental, or emotional complications, contact an attorney at A Law Firm of Goldstein, Schmitt, & Wade today!