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Johnson & Johnson Loses Vaginal Mesh Case, Must Pay $3.35 Million

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 10:33 AM EST

The jury has found Johnson & Johnson guilty for misleading doctors and patients about the safety of its vaginal mesh product and requested that the company pay $3.35 million to the victim from Watertown, South Dakota. The plaintiff, Linda Gross, a 47 year-old nurse filed a lawsuit in November 2008 against Ethicon, a subsidiary of the company, stating that the product was too dangerous to be placed inside the body, and thus, caused complications for her. The state Superior Court in Atlantic City, NJ took on the case and found that the Gyncare Prolift vaginal mesh was indeed harmful for women. The product was already discontinued last year after thousands of lawsuits were filed. 

The product was advertised to be an effective treatment for pelvic organ collapse, which results from the weakening of the tissues within the vagina responsible for holding the pelvic organs in place. Gross was suffering from this condition when her doctor recommended the surgery in 2006. After the surgery, Gross claimed that she developed several problems, such as mesh erosion, scar tissue, inflammation, and neurological damages, which she all attributed to the surgery and the product. Because of these complications, Gross had to undergo 18 operations and find medical treatment to fix the damages the product inflicted. Prolapse conditions can result from menopause, childbirth or a hysterectomy. 

The trial lasted six-weeks before the panel composing of six women and three men agreed that the company had misrepresented its product and endangered the health of women. They stated that the company placed profits over the well-being of the female consumers. Ethicon is not the only company facing cases against mesh products. There are roughly 11,000 filed claims against several companies including C.R. Bard Inc, Boston Scientific Corp, Coloplast, and Endo Health Solutions' American Medical Systems Inc. C.R. Bard Inc lost its first case last year in Bakersfield, CA and was required to pay the plaintiff $5.5 million for medical expenses and damages. 

Gross' case is the first one of about 1,800 cases that are still pending in New Jersey and her verdict can predict the outcome of the other cases and its effects on Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon. 

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