Preliminary reports out of Charleston West Virginia are that U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin has granted a “directed verdict” for Johnson and Johnson in the “pelvic mesh” or “trans-vaginal mesh” (TVM) trial that had been underway in that state. In a move that is very likely to be appealed, the judge apparently took the decision away from the jury stating that the plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence to support her claim that a defect in the J&J “TVT Retropubic sling” caused her injury. Judge Goodwin is handling about 50,000 cases over the implantation of trans-vaginal mesh as part of the federal “multi district litigation” (MDL).
The ruling comes as a shock to many, given the link between the use of these trans-vaginal mesh products and vaginal injury. The ruling is particularly surprising given that a New Jersey jury in state court ordered J&J’s Ethicon to pay a woman implanted with trans-vaginal mesh $3.35 million in compensatory damages and $7.76 million in punitive damages, so there was clearly enough evidence for that jury to reach the conclusion that J&J’s TVM products cause injury. What is worse, the Court ignored its own ruling that J&J improperly destroyed documents about some vaginal mesh implants.
Though disappointing, the battle over this controversial product will continue. The next trial is set for April against American Medical Systems, according to the federal court calendar. SGB and firms like it will not be deterred by this setback and will continue to fight for the rights of the women who have suffered injuries due to trans-vaginal mesh.