Individuals seeking compensation for injuries caused by pelvic/transvaginal mesh (TVM) and DePuy hip implants have a reason to be optimistic after plaintiffs in two separate actions received verdicts collectively grossing approximately $20 million. Conversely, it has been a difficult few weeks for Defendant Johnson & Johnson, Inc., the parent company of the manufacturers involved in the two medical device cases.
In February, a jury awarded Linda and Jeff Gross, a South Dakota couple, $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.76 million in punitive damages for injuries sustained by Linda Gross from a Gynecare Prolift pelvic mesh implant. The Gynecare Prolift mesh, manufactured by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is currently the subject of over 1,800 cases filed in a multicounty litigation (MCL) before New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee.
Gross endured 18 separate surgeries as a consequence of severe complications caused by the Gynecare Prolift device hardening inside her body. She experienced mesh erosion, scar tissue formation and damage to internal structures, injuries common across the plaintiff spectrum. A former hospice nurse, Gross, 47, has been diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, has suffered from extreme urinary frequency, has difficulty walking and has lost much of the ability to be intimate with her husband. She also suffers from major depression and anxiety.
She and her husband filed suit alleging, in part, that Defendant failed to warn both patients and medical practitioners about the dangers of the pelvic mesh product and fraudulently concealed such risks while misrepresenting the benefits of the device. Plaintiffs sought compensatory damages for economic loss, pain and suffering and loss of consortium. Plaintiffs also sought punitive damages for Defendants’ willful and wanton conduct.
After a 31-day trial, the New Jersey jury awarded the Gross’s just over $11.1 million: $1.1 million for pain and suffering, $1,385,000 million for past and future medical costs, $680,000 for past and future lost wages, $185,000 for loss of consortium and $7,760,000 for punitive damages.
In another closely watched trial involving Johnson & Johnson, a Los Angeles, California Superior Court jury recently awarded Plaintiff Loren Kransky $8.3 million in the first bellwether trial of the over 10,000 lawsuits regarding defective DePuy metal-on-metal hip implants.
In Kransky v. Johnson & Johnson, 65-year-old Kransky received a defective DePuy hip implant in 2007, which required replacement in 2012. Kransky alleged that in addition to his early revision, he suffered from constant pain and heavy metal poisoning from the prosthetic hip. Johnson & Johnson had denied Kransky’s allegations, blaming his illness on a long history of smoking, exposure to Agent Orange during his service in the Vietnam War and other health complications including kidney disease and coronary artery disease.
The jury held that the device was defectively designed and that it caused Kransky’s injuries, however, awarding him $338,136 for his medical expenses and $8 million for pain and suffering.
Plaintiff’s attorneys had asked for as much as $179 million in punitive damages. Nevertheless, the jury declined to award punitive damages in this case, determining that Defendant had properly warned of the potential risks of its product and did not act with malice.
Gross v. Ethicon, Case No. Atl-L-6966-10;
Kransky v. Johnson & Johnson, BC456086
VERDICT: $11,100,000; $8,300,000
VENUE: Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County; California Superior Court, Los Angeles County