On the eve of the first trial involving vaginal implant products manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, attorneys representing the 30,000 women claiming to have been harmed by the defective devices are accusing Ethicon officials of either losing or destroying hundreds of thousands of critical documents. This according to a report on Bloomberg.com.
The transvaginal surgical mesh implants, marketed under the brand name Gynecare Prolift, were intended to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, conditions common in older women whose pelvic muscles have weakened after pregnancy or childbirth. But the mesh products have been identified as causing pelvic injuries, including severe pelvic pain, erosion of the mesh into adjacent pelvic organs, and pain during sexual intercourse.
The missing documents pertain to the development and regulatory approval of the implants. The patients’ lawyers claim that the unavailability of the evidence improperly prejudices their case, and are asking Judge Joseph Goodwin of the federal district court in Charleston, West Virginia to bar the defendants from relying on certain defenses at trial or seeking to dismiss a number of suits they claim were filed beyond certain deadlines. Johnson & Johnson executives assert that they advised Ethicon representatives to preserve the documents, but Ethicon has acknowledged that some of its employees failed to abide by the request.
Several manufacturers of vaginal mesh devices have been named in tens of thousands of lawsuits filed in state and federal courts. The first two trials in state court – against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division and C.R. Bard – resulted in decisions in favor of the patients, with the juries in each case finding the defendants negligent in designing and marketing their faulty products and in failing to warn patients of the dangers. This matter, the first vaginal mesh trial against Ethicon in federal court, is scheduled to begin on February 10, 2014.
If you or someone you know suffers from pain or other injuries as a result of a vaginal mesh implant or other defective device, the attorneys at Sommers Schwartz are currently handling a number of these lawsuits and are available to discuss and review your case.