First Four Johnson & Johnson Mesh Lawsuits Settled
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First Four Johnson & Johnson Mesh Lawsuits Settled

Four confidential settlements were reached with Johnson & Johnson over their controversial Transvaginal Mesh products.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 - The first collection of lawsuits have been settled in the massive multidistrict litigation case concerning defective Johnson & Johnson transvaginal mesh products. Four of the cases reached confidential settlements at the state level, the beginning of a process that will eventually have to deal with more than 20,000 cases overall.

These first settlements happened in connection with the Johnson & Johnson Ethicon transvaginal mesh, one of a series of mesh products currently involved in the nationwide MDL. The Ethicon model is facing the largest amount of lawsuits in the MDL with almost 23,000 lawsuits filed against the Johnson & Johnson product. Three other mesh companies have more than 10,000 lawsuits filed against them as well, with the total number of lawsuits in the MDL reaching over 70,000 separate cases.

Transvaginal mesh is an implanted product primarily intended to help women with pelvic organ prolapse which can take place after birth, and stress urinary incontinence. The complications that brought about the litigation with the transvaginal mesh stems from a litany of problems patients deal with following implantation.

Plaintiffs claim that the mesh shrinks and/or erodes once surgically implanted, causing a considerable amount of pain for the patient and often leading to infection. Specific injuries include internal bleeding, organ damage, severe pain, and incontinence. These complications have led to many patients needing one or more repair surgeries after the initial implantation. More serious cases made sexual intercourse and even regular daily tasks painful for patients. Of the four recently settled cases, three of the women dealt with the previously stated range of discomfort, while one of the families claimed an infection contracted from the mesh led to wrongful death.

In 2011, the FDA issued a warning stating that there was no benefit to treating symptoms with transvaginal mesh over non-mesh products. More than 1,000 complaints were filed with the government agency claiming complications after mesh implantation, many even claiming issues with the risk of organ puncture during the surgical procedure.

The current MDL is taking place in the West Virginia district court, where previous findings from all the other lawsuits against transvaginal mesh manufacturers have been consolidated. There have already been instances in which juries found some of the mesh products made by Johnson & Johnson have design flaws that customers were not properly warned about. The central claims made by plaintiffs include a failure to warn patients about the dangers of transvaginal mesh and the problems caused by the faulty design of the product.

Johnson & Johnson has resisted including itself in attempts at a global resolution for transvaginal mesh, choosing to settle claims against the company on its own. The company pulled its transvaginal products off the market in 2012 following a large amount of erosion and shrinkage claims connected to their mesh products. Though the first four settlements did not include any admission to wrongdoing, plaintiffs are hopeful that this action may result in the expedition of future resolutions regarding the remaining claims against the company.

Not all companies involved with transvaginal mesh are involved in the West Virginia MDL. Endo, a company that manufactures transvaginal mesh in Ireland, recently set aside more than a billion dollars to settle transvaginal mesh lawsuits. It is the first company to reach a settlement covering all its mesh cases.

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