A New Jersey state court jury has slammed prominent medical device manufacturer C.R. Bard with a $68 million award in the case of a South Carolina woman who suffered severe injuries after receiving one of the company’s pelvic mesh products, MassDevice reports.
C.R. Bard Loses $68M Pelvic Mesh Lawsuit
Granted in a 7-to-1 jury vote, the judgment includes $35 million in punitive damages, along with $33 million intended to compensate the patient and her husband for severe pain, loss of the enjoyment of life and the astronomical medical expenses racked up over the course of multiple painful revision surgeries. Over 150 similar pelvic mesh implant lawsuits remain consolidated in the New Jersey Superior Court.
NJ Jury: C.R. Bard Failed To Warn Of “Defective” Mesh
C.R. Bard is one of the world’s leading surgical mesh manufacturers, responsible both for Avaulta and Align pelvic mesh products and Composix, Kugel and Ventrio hernia mesh patches. In its conclusion, the New Jersey jury found that Bard should be held accountable for manufacturing and marketing “defective” mesh implants and failing to warn the public of its risks.
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit blamed two Bard patches, falling under the company’s Avaulta and Align brand names, for severe pain and widespread inflammation, calling the products “unsafe and untested” in court documents.
While the judgment doesn’t directly touch the question of Bard’s hernia mesh implants, it’s certain to provide a boost to a growing number of lawsuits claiming the company’s hernia-related products are defective.
Attorneys Present Evidence Of Danger
Bard’s pelvic mesh products are made from a sheet of clear polypropylene, which features at its center a patch of mesh and four outstretched arms of synthetic polymer that attach to the patient’s internal tissues to hold the mesh in place.
Much of the plaintiff’s argument comes down to Bard’s choice of polypropylene, a polymer widely used in industrial applications. At trial, attorneys for the woman introduced a material safety data sheet for the substance, which advised manufacturers to avoid using the material to make implants that will remain permanently inside the human body, according to Legal NewsLine.
Former Bard VP Says Company Hid Material Use From Supplier
And Roger Darois, former vice president of research and technology at Bard, admitted in court testimony that his former employer had withheld from Phillips Sumika Polypropylene Co., Bard’s source for polypropylene resin, that the company was using polypropylene to manufacture medical implants.
A corporate email, plaintiff’s attorney Adam Slater said, instructed Bard employees to purchase the material from Phillips Sumika Polypropylene through a third-party intermediary. “There’s only one reason you hide something,” Slater argued, “you don’t want someone to know.” Bard feared that, if Phillips Sumika learned that its polypropylene was being used to make medical implants, the company would cut off Bard’s supply, Slater said.
Defense Blames Pre-Existing Arthritis, Surgeons
At trial, Bard’s defense attorneys unsuccessfully attempted to shift the blame for the patient’s injuries onto her pre-existing conditions, including progressive arthritis in her hip, groin, thigh and back that had resulted in around 176 doctor’s visits over the course of several years.
In addition, defense counsel introduced evidence at trial that the woman’s doctors, during one of her mesh implantation procedures, had accidentally opened a tear in her vaginal wall tissue. The attorneys blamed this “buttonhole” for the erosion of mesh that was identified during surgical procedures.
Meanwhile, the implanting surgeon herself told jurors that she wouldn’t use the pelvic mesh today due to its risks.
Plaintiffs’ Attorneys Slam Bard For “Negligence”
Attorneys for the plaintiff stuck to their guns, arguing that Bard’s pelvic mesh had been improperly designed. The Avaulta and Align products, attorneys said, were too heavy and lacked sufficiently-large pores for implantation in the human body.
“What you’re going to do is put this in someone’s body for the rest of [their] life,” plaintiffs’ attorney Adam Slater argued. “[C.R. Bard] knew about pore collapse and that it would cause scar plating. They had no evidence how the arms would perform and they were so tight. During a vaginal exam, the pain was so bad [the plaintiff] cried out on the table.”