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By: Marilyn McGoldrick, Esq.

Published on June 5, 2017

A Pennsylvania state court jury awarded $2.16 million in damages to a woman with an Ethicon ProLift +M  Pelvic Floor Repair System which eroded inside her body and cannot be removed.  This is the fourth consecutive win for plaintiffs in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and the fourth multi-million dollar award against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon. It is the first time  punitive damages were not awarded.

The award is entirely compensation for the plaintiff’s injuries, including lost income, medical bills, and extreme pain and suffering. Diagnosed in 2006 with Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP), a common condition in women who have had children,  plaintiff Sharon Belz was implanted with an Ethicon Prolift+M system.  The product, a large piece of polypropylene mesh, is used to help support pelvic organs which have prolapsed or fallen out of position. The ProLift+M  was recalled by Johnson and Johnson in 2012, seven years after it was first placed on the market.

After the mesh began deteriorating in Mrs. Beltz’s body, surgeons attempted to remove it, but were unable to do so.  As a result, she suffered and continues to suffer.  Court filings describe her condition:

“Mrs. Beltz’s problems are thus permanent. She may elect to undergo further pain injections, resection of the mesh, or start taking pain medications regularly, but these options at best will only mitigate her symptoms. She has to live the remainder of her life with constant pelvic pain, a sensation her bladder is pulling, urinary incontinence and retention, lower flank pain, urinary tract infections, and severe pain with sex that lingers days after she has intercourse, ….. She will be at risk for exposure of the mesh in her vagina and erosion of the mesh into her bladder, urethra, or other organs for the remainder of her life.”

The Beltz jury concluded that the risks presented by the mesh far outweighed the benefits, and that was the basis for their award of compensatory damages. However, the jury did not find that the ProLift+M mesh was defective, nor that Ethicon/J&J failed to warn the plaintiff and her doctors. In the three previous verdicts against Ethicon, the juries did rule that Ethicon’s mesh implants were a defective product, and that Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson failed to warn that the mesh was defective. In those cases, the verdict was included a punitive damages award: Engleman ($20 million);  Carlino ($13.5 million);  and Hammons ($12.5 million).

Thornton Law Firm’s pelvic mesh injury team represents women in claims against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, as well as  against Boston Scientific, Caldera, Coloplast, Cook Medical, C.R. Bard, Inc., Mentor Worldwide, and Sofradim/Covidien. If you have a vaginal mesh implant and have experienced any side effects, including infection, pain, bleeding, mesh erosion, mesh contraction, urinary problems, severe pelvic pain, vaginal tightening or shortening, painful sexual intercourse, inability to engage in sexual intercourse, additional surgeries, or organ perforation, and would like a  confidential and fair evaluation of your legal claim, please call us at our toll free number 1-888-341-1405, or tell us your story on the online. The legal time limits for filing claims are very short and strictly enforced, so seek legal advice as soon as possible about your transvaginal mesh implant.