Transvaginal Mesh Trials: Wins and Losses

Outside the Charleston, West Virginia federal court house, women who say they’ve been injured by vaginal mesh devices used to treat urinary incontinence and bladder prolapse have gathered to bring awareness to their suffering. The West Virginia Metro News quotes a woman from Kentucky who endured surgery complications. “It has killed women. It has had women commit suicide. The mesh migrates through your body, it breaks, it goes through organs. It has crippled a lot of women. There’s a lot of divorces,” she said. “We’re here to bring awareness, so this product will be recalled off the market.”

According to a June 25, 2015 report from Surgical Watch, over 70,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed against several  companies. Pressure is on to see these cases resolved. “I’m going to kick it into high gear and ask that you do the same,” U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin of Charleston, West Virginia said to device makers in February. This November, the judge will hear the joint trial of 26 plaintiffs who have sued Ethicon for damages.

One company- Endo International – has reportedly set aside $1.6 billion and agreed to settlement terms for nearly all 20,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits filed against them. Two days later, Covidien announced they would settle more than 11,000 pending lawsuits.

Defendants Wins In Transvaginal Mesh Cases

  • The first case against Johnson & Johnson was thrown out by Judge Goodwin who concluded that the plaintiff’s attorneys “failed to present sufficient evidence to support her claim that a defect in the [TVT Retropubic sling] device caused her injury.”
  • Boston Scientific won the first case against their vaginal mesh products on July 29, 2014. Mesh Medical Device Newsdesk points out that a number of critical facts were not allowed in court proceedings, including the fact that the woman’s mesh product had been taken off the market in 2010, problems with the 510(k) clearance process, and important FDA safety alerts.

Wins For Plaintiffs

  • $1.2 Million: A Texas jury returns a favorable verdict for the plaintiff of a pelvic mesh lawsuit against Ethicon in April 2014.
  • $2 Million: A Georgia resident implanted with Bard Avaulta Plus mesh won an early trial in August 2013.
  • $3.27 Million: Ethicon was ordered to pay a woman who underwent surgery to remove their pelvic mesh device.
  • $5.7 Million: A California jury found Ethicon liable for injuries to a woman implanted with the Abbrevo Sling.
  • $11 Million: A South Dakota woman received a favorable verdict after undergoing 18 revision surgeries to remove pieces of the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh.
  • $18.5 Million: Four women in West Virginia won a case against Boston Scientific for constant pain caused by the company’s Obtryx device, with individual awards ranging from $3.25-$4.25 Million.
  • $26.7 Million: In Miami, four women received $6.5-$6.7 Million each for similar complaints related to Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle device.
  • $73.5 Million: A Texas jury found Boston Scientific liable for injuries to a 41-year-old former property manager who can no longer walk or sit normally after being implanted with the Obtryx Bladder Sling. The award was later reduced to $34 million.
  • $100 Million: A Delaware jury awarded a 51-year-old Newark woman a large award for a Boston Scientific device implanted in May 2009 that has caused complications like pain during sex and urinary tract infections.

Some Transvaginal Mesh Manufacturers Opting To Settle

Trials are continually being prepared and cases are going to trial, but Judge Goodwin says it could take some time to try all the cases in court. Despite companies like Endo International and Covidien negotiating settlements and some defendants suffering losses in court, many of the manufacturers would rather have their day in court and defend their products.

Meanwhile, the companies with the most complaints filed against them- and the most to lose- linger in the litigation process, hoping to get a number of cases thrown out before delving into more meaningful settlement negotiations and avoiding trial.