Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon manufacturing unit suffered a staggering loss in a Philadelphia courtroom recently when a jury awarded Ella Ebaugh $57 million for the pain and injury she suffered as the result of a pelvic mesh implant.
“I had five children and that’s what weakened my pelvic floor muscles,” Ebaugh said in an interview with the local CBS affiliate. To strengthen her pelvic wall and help support her urethra, she, like hundreds of thousands of other women, was implanted with an Ethicon pelvic mesh. As a result, she says that her “urethra is mangled” and she “will suffer for the rest of” her life. “I feel like I’m on fire you know down there,” she says.
The Philadelphia mesh award was based on the jury’s finding that Ethicon was negligent and that their pelvic mesh device is defective in its design. This is not an uncommon sentiment and thousands of Ethicon mesh lawsuits saying the same thing have been filed across the country.
Ethicon revision surgeries are of particular concern. Ebaugh still has pieces of Ethicon mesh embedded in her urethra after enduring three such operations. And, in 2016, a separate Ethicon mesh device was pulled from the market after studies showed that it was directly linked to an increased number of revision surgeries for those into whom it had been implanted.
Ethicon transvaginal mesh lawsuits have also proven to be problematic for the company as 2015 saw over 25,000 such cases consolidated and tried in courts throughout the country. Some 70,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits had been pending nationwide at one point.
For its part, Ethicon continues to stand behind its mesh products and that the company “is confident in the positive impact our pelvic mesh products have had,” it says. “The use of mesh to treat stress urinary incontinence is supported by medical experts, medical societies, physicians and regulatory organizations around the world.” It plans on appealing the verdict.
Plaintiffs, however, are likely encouraged by the notion that juries are hearing their cries and that compensation for their horrific injuries may be on the horizon.