Articles Posted in Jury Verdicts

Woman Suffering Pain From Transvaginal Mesh

In this post, we continue our review of transvaginal mesh cases.  We look at one (remarkable) jury verdict and one partial summary judgment decision in favor of the defendant from 2015.  Many other cases are moving to trial. Going forward, I will keep you updated on jury verdicts and other key court decisions as they happen.

Barba v. Boston Scientific Corp. (Delaware Superior Court)

Products:  Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit Transvaginal Mesh and Advantage Fit Mid-Urethral Sling System

Jury Award:  $100,000,000.00.

Date of Jury Verdict:  May 28, 2015

Key Takeaway:  A huge verdict for the plaintiff, Deborah Barba.  This case was remarkable for the very high money award:  one hundred million dollars, to a single woman.

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Woman Suffering Following Transvaginal Mesh Implantation

Transvaginal mesh lawsuits are finally getting their day in court.  This is a good thing for the thousands of women who were injured, some severely, by the failure of the transvaginal mesh products sold by Ethicon (Johnson & Johnson), Boston Scientific, and other companies.  In Part 1, we looked at three TVM jury verdicts from 2013 and 2014.  In this post, we look at two jury verdicts and an appeal decision from November 2014.

Many other cases are moving to trial. In Part 3, I will discuss several jury verdicts from 2015.

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Transvaginal Mesh Jury Verdicts

Transvaginal mesh (TVM) is a plastic mesh product that is surgically implanted in women to repair or support weakened vaginal walls and other compromised tissue. Many women suffer from a condition called pelvic organ prolapse (POP), where an organ like the bladder prolapses from its normal position in the body and presses against the walls of the vagina.  One of the main causes of this condition is childbirth. The FDA approved TVM for treatment of women with POP and other conditions like stress urinary incontinence more than a decade ago.

Sadly, TVM has caused terrible problems for thousands of women. Not only after transvaginal mesh was marketed and sold, women began complaining of different, often more serious problems. Complications include erosion of the vaginal wall, infections, urinary problems, pain during sexual intercourse, scarring, bowel or bladder perforation, and recurrence of pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence. Women have been forced to undergo surgeries to attempt to repair the damage done by transvaginal mesh. In some cases injured women have endured multiple surgeries.

The lawsuits followed. Fortunately for these (often severely) injured women, these cases are finally getting to trial and to jury verdicts. The good news is that some plaintiffs have received millions from juries for their injuries.  But the TVM manufacturers have also scored victories.

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Transvaginal Mesh Patient

You have probably seen news reports (or at least the flood of TV commercials from law firms) about the suffering caused by the failure of transvaginal mesh (TVM) products.  This is a unique medical device failure “story” because of the large number of women who have been affected.  It is estimated that transvaginal mesh is implanted in more than 200,000 women each year in the United States.  And by early 2015 well over 70,000 lawsuits have been filed against transvaginal mesh manufacturers because of injuries caused by TVM.  More lawsuits are being filed each week.

But let’s back up.

Surgical mesh is a medical product that “is used to provide additional support when repairing weakened or damaged tissue.”  FDA News Release April 29, 2014.  It is a plastic lattice-type  mesh that is surgically implanted around weakened, loose, sagging, or otherwise compromised human tissue (such as a vaginal wall).  While surgical mesh can be used to treat different kinds of problems, such as hernia, the mesh that has caused much of the current suffering and most of the lawsuits involves transvaginal mesh.

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Boy taking Risperdal

I have written on this site about the horrific side effects that some young men have suffered as a result of taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.  Check out my recent post on the subject for further information.

Risperdal was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a company owned by Johnson & Johnson) to treat symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Unfortunately, Risperdal has caused terrible side effects, including gynecomastia, which is the growth of female breasts on boys and young men.  As you can imagine, once this condition developed, and then developed again and again in many young men, it became clear that something was very wrong.

The lawsuits followed, over 5,000 so far, and more are being filed each week.

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Clients Need Their Attorneys to Listen

So often in life people get things exactly backward.  Many lawyers, even great lawyers, see themselves first as accomplished advocates and gifted orators, and therefore in client meetings these lawyers will speak “at” their clients, dispensing their “expertise” and dominating the conversation.  On and on and on.  This is a mistake.  These lawyers presume wrongly that the client has scheduled a meeting to hear the lawyer’s latest thoughts on case strategy, or that the client wants an extended briefing on the status of discovery or the latest trial motion.

This is almost completely wrong.

What Clients Want

Clients want to be heard.  They want to be understood.  They want their attorney to listen.  And not just listen, but listen deeply.

I get it.  The client has entrusted the attorney with a huge responsibility.  The client has handed over her case to a professional to manage and maneuver it through the dense thicket of the legal system, and to handle the case well enough to achieve a successful outcome.

But it’s more than that: the client has handed over her story to the attorney.  There is so much more involved in a lawsuit than merely grinding through discovery, dispositive motions, mediation, and trial.  The lawyer is responsible for building the story of the client’s case.  And every case is a compelling story.  It’s the lawyer’s job to hear it.

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Artificial Knee Failure

“The Most Anatomically Accurate Knee Implant”

In 2012, medical device manufacturer Zimmer, Inc. introduced the Persona artificial knee to the public with lofty language.  Zimmer announced that the company was “redefining knee arthroplasty and ushering in a new era of personalization with the introduction of the Persona Knee.” Zimmer stated on its website that by “working with more than 50 of the world’s most respected orthopaedic surgeons, and utilizing analytics from both genders and 1,500 different bone types from 26 different ethnicities, Zimmer was able to create the most anatomically accurate knee implant.”

The reported advantage of the Persona knee system, according to Zimmer, was that it would give surgeons several component options for each patient and each surgery, thus assuring a tailored fit for the patient.  Again, from Zimmer: “the result is an implant system that addresses the unique needs of the patient and accommodates surgeon-specific preferences — all while empowering surgeons to minimize “trade-offs” and better optimize results.”  Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Zimmer sold the Persona knee from November 2012 through March 2015.  A lot of them.  But bad things began to happen.  People began reporting pain and other symptoms, including loosening of the knee components inside the leg.

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I’ve written a lot about the Depuy ASR Hip System on this site.  And there are good reasons for that.  First, I have represented many clients who suffered from failed Depuy ASR hip components, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the Depuy ASR MDL.  Second, the Depuy ASR hip failures have generated thousands of lawsuits across the country, more than other artificial hip products.  The last I checked, filed cases involving the Depuy ASR hip system exceeded 10,000, so the ASR claims are far and away the biggest source of litigation among the artificial hip manufacturers.

Nevertheless, other artificial hips have been failing.  Depuy Orthopaedics manufactures and sells the Depuy Pinnacle Cup System.  Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against Depuy and Johnson & Johnson related to the Depuy Pinnacle hip, although so far, Depuy is defending the Pinnacle Hip aggressively and recently won a jury trial involving a woman who claimed she was injured by the Pinnacle.

Surgeon Reviewing X-Rays of Depuy Pinnacle Artificial Hip

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Artificial Hip Client With Key Questions

Part 1

I was chatting with a former client the other day and I asked her if she could tell me the burning questions she had when she discovered her hip replacement surgery had “failed” and that she needed revision surgery.  It turned out to be a masterstroke on my part, because a few days later she sent me a three page list of intriguing questions (let’s call it “The List”).  Many of these questions I have answered in previous articles on this site.  But not all of them.  In fact, some questions startled me, as I had not considered every possible uncertainty a person may have when going through such an awful ordeal.  I will answer three of these questions in this post, and I will return to The List in the coming weeks to answer more of the questions.

What Questions Should I Ask My Surgeon?

Here is usually how it works:  you will undergo the hip replacement surgery, and you will see your surgeon post-operation and then for follow-up visits in the next few months following surgery.  But the surgeon will quickly disappear, as he or she has more patients to see and more surgeries to perform, week after week.  So you will spend more time in the recovery and rehabilitation period with other medical professionals, such as your physical therapist and perhaps your primary physician.  Your physical therapist may be the first to identify that there is a problem with your recovery and therefore that there may be a problem with your hip replacement.  Or it could be your primary care physician.  Or it could actually be the orthopedic surgeon who performed the procedure, who may explain that the hip has failed in one of these post-op follow-up visits.  (Of course, keep in mind that the artificial hip could take months or even years to “fail.”)

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Attorney Should Give a Client Confidence and Assurance

I have had bad eyesight since I was a teenager. Now in my mid-forties, I have endured retinal tears, cataracts, elevated eye pressure, even something called vitreous detachment. I will spare you the details, but this year the cataracts became bad enough that my ophthalmologist suggested I consider surgery to remove the cloudiness on the lenses of both eyes.

I needed to find the right surgeon to perform this delicate procedure. I mean, we’re talking about my eyes. Few things in our lives are as important to our quality of life as our vision. Needless to say, I was not going into this search lightly.

Searching for Assurance

I asked everyone I knew to recommend the most competent physician performing cataract surgeries. Fortunately I know many people who work in the medical field, and I set out to get everyone’s views on the subject. First I asked my ophthalmologist, who gave me a few names. I asked my retinal surgeon, who gave me four names. I asked an ophthalmology nurse, who gave me her views on the best cataract surgeons. I asked people who had undergone the procedure in the past. I asked people who may not have had a clue as to which surgeon might be good for these surgeries. I was going to do my homework before allowing some stranger to make incisions on my eyes.

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Client Reviews
I was involved in a case for the faulty hip replacements. Clay Hodges represented me. I can't say enough about how much he has helped me. Clay was able to win multiple settlements on my behalf with most of them being the maximum amount able to be awarded. Matt J.
Clay, thank you sir for making a disheartening experience at least palatable, you and your staff were honest, caring and understanding through the entire process of my wife’s hip replacements, while monetary settlements never make the pain and suffering end, it sometimes is the only way people can fight back to right a wrong. J. V.
We are absolutely pleased with how Clay Hodges handled my husband’s hip replacement claim. He always kept us informed of the progress. And, his work resulted in a settlement which we are extremely pleased. Thank you, Clay! Carol L. & Norm L.
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