Law360, Philadelphia (April 28, 2017, 3:03 PM EDT) — A Pennsylvania state jury hit Johnson & Johnson on Friday with a $20 million verdict over injuries suffered by a New Jersey woman after receiving a vaginal mesh implant, the third consecutive eight-figure award against Johnson & Johnson in the pelvic mesh mass tort program in Philadelphia County court.
Peggy Engleman was awarded $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $17.5 million in punitive damages after a three-week trial. Engleman claimed that a TVT-Secur medical device manufactured by J&J subsidiary Ethicon was defective and that the companies had failed to warn of its risks. TVT stands for trans-vaginal tape.
Engleman, who filed her lawsuit in 2013, had the device implanted in 2007 to relieve stress urinary incontinence, a condition that caused leakage when she coughed or exercised. But she says the TVT-Secur failed within a month and her condition returned. The mesh then began eroding within her body, and doctors were unable to remove it all even after three more surgeries, she claimed.
The 56-year-old New Jersey resident said she now has chronic vaginal pain, pelvic floor spasms and permanent urinary dysfunction.
“I’m happy I could be a voice for other women,” Engleman said in a statement. “It’s been a nightmare, and I feel justice was truly served today.”
The TVT-Secur product was launched in September 2006, but Engleman’s attorneys said J&J had received numerous reports of high failure rates from countries all over the world.
“This jury sent a strong message today to Johnson & Johnson that they continue to hear in courtrooms across the country — our communities deserve better than these dangerous mesh devices and putting profits before safety will not be tolerated,” lead plaintiff’s counsel Benjamin Anderson of Cleveland-based Anderson Law Offices said in a statement.
Two previous trials in Philadelphia argued by Shanin Specter of Kline & Specter PC have already resulted in a pair of damage awards against Ethicon totaling some $26 million. A 2015 case produced a $12.5 million verdict for an Indiana woman and a 2016 case led to a $13.5 million for a New Jersey woman.
The pelvic mesh mass tort program still has 183 cases pending, with the next one is scheduled to go to trial on May 8.
“We empathize with women suffering from stress urinary incontinence, which can be a serious and debilitating condition,” said Ethicon spokeswoman Kristen Wallace. “We believe the evidence showed Ethicon’s TVT-Secur device was properly designed, Ethicon acted appropriately and responsibly in the research, development and marketing of the product, and TVT-Secur was not the cause of the plaintiff’s continuing medical problems. Therefore, we are disappointed with today’s verdict and feel we have strong grounds for appeal.”
Engleman is represented by Benjamin Anderson of the Anderson Law Offices, Daniel J. Thornburgh of Aylstock Witkin Kreis & Overholtz PLLC and Chris Gomez of Kline & Specter PC.
J&J is represented by Kenneth A. Murphy, Melissa A. Merk and Andrew P. Reeve of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Nils Burton Snell of Butler Snow LLP, Julie A. Callsen and Rita A. Maimbourg of Tucker Ellis LLP and James M. Campbell of Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy PC.
The case is Engleman v. Gynecare et al, case number 140305384, in the Court of Common Pleas of the State of Pennsylvania, County of Philadelphia.