In the ongoing lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson involving alleged defects in certain transvaginal surgical mesh (“TVM”) implants made by its Ethicon division, U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Eifert recently found that company officials acted negligently by improperly destroying or losing hundreds of thousands of critical documents and files relating to the development of those devices. The multidistrict litigation includes more than 30,000 cases brought by women claiming to have been injured by the TVM devices. Those cases have been consolidated before Judge Joseph Goodwin in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
The implants, marketed under the brand names Gynecare Prolift and TVT Retropubic Sling, were intended to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence, conditions common in older women whose pelvic muscles weaken after pregnancy or childbirth. After the products were introduced to the market, however, reports surfaced that the implants could cause pelvic injuries such as severe pain, erosion of the mesh into adjacent organs, and pain during sexual intercourse.
The missing documents relate to product development and regulatory approval, dating back as far as 2007. As discussed in a prior post on this blog, attorneys for the plaintiffs claim that the unavailability of the evidence improperly prejudices their collective cases. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, representatives from Ethicon admitted that their protocols for document retention had “failed miserably in certain instances,” prompting Judge Eifert to recommend that the plaintiffs be allowed to inform the jury at trial about the loss of the documents, so long as they could demonstrate that the destruction put them at a disadvantage.
If you or someone you know suffers from pain or other injuries as a result of a vaginal mesh implant or other defective device, please contact the attorneys at Sommers Schwartz to discuss your situation and to learn how we can help.