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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $5.7 million in California mesh trial


(Reuters) — A California jury on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc. unit to pay $5.7 million in the first trial over injuries blamed on the TVT Abbrevo, one of numerous transvaginal mesh products that are the subject of thousands of lawsuits.

Following more than three days of deliberations in Kern County, California, jurors found Ethicon liable for problems with the TVT Abbrevo’s design and for failing to warn about its risks, according to a lawyer for plaintiff Coleen Perry.

Ms. Perry was awarded $700,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages after jurors found Ethicon’s conduct had amounted to “malice,” her lawyer said.

The verdict is the fourth win for plaintiffs suing Ethicon over transvaginal mesh. More than 36,000 lawsuits have been filed against Ethicon in state and federal courts over the devices, which are used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

The Abbrevo, one of Ethicon’s newer models of mesh products, was cleared for sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010 to treat stress urinary incontinence. Ms. Perry, who was implanted with it in 2011, said she began experiencing a “pulling-type” pain almost immediately after surgery.

Ms. Perry said the mesh began to erode in her body, causing pain that she said she expects to last the rest of her life, according to testimony Reuters saw on Courtroom View Network.

Ethicon’s lawyers said the product was thoroughly vetted before it hit the market and that doctors considered the mesh used in the Abbrevo to be the “gold standard” for incontinence treatment.

Peter de la Cerda, a lawyer for Ms. Perry, said the verdict sent a “clear message to Ethicon” about its “improper conduct in designing and marketing the Abbrevo.” Ethicon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ethicon won one trial over mesh in federal court in West Virginia, where another trial over its mesh products started on Monday.