PHILADELPHIA, PA (WTXF) - On Friday, April 28, a jury handed down a $20 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson for injuries suffered by a New Jersey woman after being implanted with a vaginal mesh device.
The verdict was the third consecutive eight-figure award against the corporate giant in a mesh case in a Philadelphia courtroom.
The award--$2.5 million in compensatory and $17.5 million in punitive damages--for Peggy Engleman, now 56, of Cinnaminson, followed a three-week trial in Common Pleas Court in which her attorneys claimed the TVT-Secur medical device was not only defective but that J&J and its Ethicon subsidiary had failed to warn of its risks, risks they had been well aware of while continuing to market the product.
Engleman was implanted with the device in 2007 to relieve stress urinary incontinence, a leakage caused by things such as exercise or coughing. But within a month the TVT-Secur failed and Engleman's stress urinary incontinence returned.
She began experiencing pain and discomfort when the polypropylene mesh started to erode inside her body. Despite three subsequent surgeries, doctors were unable to remove all the remaining mesh.
As a result, Engleman now suffers chronic vaginal pain and pelvic floor spasms. She also developed permanent urinary dysfunction.
"I'm happy I could be a voice for other women," Engleman said after the verdict. "It's been a nightmare, and I feel justice was truly served today."
The vaginal mesh product in Engleman's case, the TVT-Secur, was launched in September 2006 but, as her attorneys noted, J&J had already had 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," said lead plaintiff's counsel Benjamin Anderson.
"The jury made the right decision," added Thornburgh. "They looked at the evidence and heard the testimony and decided that the company had rushed the product to the market, did woefully inadequate studies and didn't warn about the risks. So we feel they made the right decision and our client will finally get justice."
Said Gomez: "The jury spoke and they sent a message that J&J and Ethicon need to take responsibility."
The verdict was the third straight against a J&J vaginal mesh product in which the plastic-like device eroded inside a patient, leaving shards of mesh that doctors were unable to entirely remove.
The first two cases, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, produced verdicts of $12.5 million for an Indiana woman and $13.5 million for a Toms River, N.J., woman.