PHILADELPHIA — A Lancaster woman was awarded $41 million, including $25 million in punitive damages, by a Philadelphia jury for injuries she suffered from a vaginal mesh device designed and marketed by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, her attorney announced Thursday.
The verdict was the sixth multi-million dollar award in a vaginal mesh product trial in Philadelphia.
Suzanne Emmett, 57, was implanted in May 2007 with a mesh product made by Ethicon Inc. to relieve organ prolapse and urinary incontinence.
Not long afterward, her attorney said, she began experiencing pain and discomfort and underwent corrective surgery to have the mesh removed.
In later years, she had six more revision surgeries but those operations also failed to relieve symptoms that included infections, inflammation, bleeding, pain and dyspareunia, or pain during sexual intercourse, due to erosion and exposure of the mesh.
Her lawsuit claimed that the plastic-like mesh had a high failure rate and caused severe and irreversible injuries to many woman. More than 100,000 women have reportedly filed lawsuits claiming injuries due to vaginal mesh products made by several companies, including J&J.
Emmett’s suit claimed that J&J misrepresented the safety and efficacy of their vaginal mesh products and underreported and withheld information about the propensity of their vaginal mesh products to fail and cause injury and complications.
“The J&J defendants,” the complaint stated, “have known, continue to know, and at all times had reason to know that their disclosures to the FDA were and are incomplete and misleading.”
The jury unanimously awarded $15 million in compensatory damages to Suzanne Emmett, $1 million to her husband, Michael, for loss of consortium, and $25 million in punitive damages.
“This jury rightfully compensated one of the thousands of Johnson & Johnson victims terribly injured by its mesh products and sent a strong deterrent message through its punitive damages verdict,” Tom Kline and Kila Baldwin, attorneys for Kline & Specter, PC, who tried the case, said in a statement following the verdict.
The Philadelphia-based law firm has won among the largest verdicts against manufacturers of vaginal mesh products, including a $57.1 million verdict – $7.1 million in compensatory and $50 million in punitive damages — in September 2017 against Ethicon for a Pennsylvania woman.
In others, Kline & Specter attorneys have won jury verdicts of $20 million, $13.5 million, $12.5 million and $2.16 million for women injured by the vaginal mesh devices.