There have been thousands of lawsuits brought in recent years against the manufacturers of transvaginal mesh (TVM) products, which have been identified as causing severe, painful, and often permanent injuries. Multiple medical device manufacturers have developed and marketed these devices, which are designed to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. What the patients soon realized, however, is that the device caused severe internal damage, intense pain, and other related injuries.
To recover damages against a medical device manufacturer, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s device bears an unreasonably dangerous design or that the device possesses a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process that renders the device unreasonably dangerous. The overwhelming majority of plaintiffs bringing claims against TVM manufacturers claim that the devices are unreasonably dangerous.
Once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started receiving complaints about the health effects of these devices, it launched an investigation into multiple brands of TVM products, issuing warning letters to some and ordering others to perform post-market studies on the TVM products’ safety.
So far, there have been a number of successful jury verdicts awarded in cases against TVM manufacturers, including a $3.27 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson over its Ethicon TVM product, a $2 million verdict against C.R. Bard over its Avaulta TVM product, and a roughly $19 million verdict against Boston Scientific over its Pinnacle mesh device. Additionally, American Medical Systems entered into a $54.4 global settlement to resolve the slew of claims filed regarding its TVM product.
The largest verdict to date in the TVM litigation occurred last May when a Delaware jury awarded $100 million to a plaintiff in a lawsuit with Boston Scientific over its Pinnacle and Advantage Fit devices. The award was broken into $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. The defendant filed a motion for remittitur, which asks the court to reduce the jury’s award. According to Delaware law, a judge may reduce a jury verdict only when it is “clear that the award is so grossly out of proportion of the injuries suffered, as to shock the court’s conscience and sense of justice.” Mitchell v. Haldar, 2004 WL 1790121, at *3 (Del. Super.). To aid his review, the judge may look at similar verdicts in comparable cases.
The court concluded that even viewing the matter in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs’ injuries did not justify a compensatory damages award of $25 million. Based on evidence in the record of the plaintiffs’ life expectancy, past and future suffering, impairment of activities, and other matters, the court reduced the compensable damages award to $2.5 million.
And while the court agreed that punitive damages were appropriate in the litigation, the court found that the $75 million figure was shocking to its conscience. Stating that the most important guidepost in assessing punitive damages is the reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct, the court concluded that a 30:1 ratio of compensatory damages to punitive damages was excessive and reduced the punitive damages award to $7.5 million.
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries as the result of receiving a TVM product or another defective medical device, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our dedicated team of medical device lawyers has represented victims throughout the country, including in Florida, New York, and Texas. We offer a free consultation to help you learn the scope of your rights. Call us now at 312-462-1700 or contact us online to set up your consultation.