First vaginal mesh case heads to trial, jury sides with plaintiff

Thousands of women throughout the country have filed personal injury lawsuits against the makers of vaginal mesh implants, charging that the devices left them with serious complications, including internal bleeding, infection and scarring. The products are used to repair pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence in women.

Lawsuits were filed against several manufacturers of the vaginal mesh products, claiming that the companies knew the risks associated with the implants but failed to warn consumers. The first these lawsuits to go to trial was decided July 20.

in that case, the jury found for the plaintiffs, a woman and her husband, deciding that the manufacturer, C.R. Bard Inc., is liable to pay the couple $3.6 million in damages. The woman suffered injuries after having Bard’s vaginal mesh device implanted in 2008.

The jury decided that Bard was 60 percent at fault for the woman’s injuries and liable for $3.6 million in damages. The jury held that the surgeon who implanted the device was 40 percent at fault, but because he wasn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit he is not liable for damages.

One of the lawyers who represented the woman and her husband said that it appeared the jury focused heavily on evidence demonstrating that the manufacturer did not properly test the product before putting it on the market. A spokesman for Bard said the company is disappointed with the jury’s decision and plans to appeal.

After receiving more than 3,000 complaints, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning on the vaginal mesh products, saying that other treatment methods posed less of a risk. The FDA also ordered 31 manufacturers to conduct extensive research into potential complications.

Just over a month ago, one of the biggest suppliers of the products, Johnson & Johnson, announced it would stop selling four lines of its vaginal mesh devices.

Source: Bloomberg, “Bard, Doctor Ordered to Pay $5.5 Million Over Implant,” Jef Feeley, July 25, 2012