For plaintiffs in Cisson v. C.R. Bard, the recent multidistrict litigation transvaginal mesh case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, there was good and bad news.
Good news: The court affirmed the $250,000 in compensatory damages and the $1.75 million in punitive damages against defendant C.R. Bard, maker of the transvaginal mesh that caused injury to plaintiff.
Bad news: The court also affirmed the split-recovery pursuant to Georgia statute, which gives the government 75 percent of any punitive damages awarded.
The bellwether case against the New Jersey company was one of the first of 8,000 concerning the Avaulta devices, which were implanted in women with the promise of halting prolapse. Plaintiffs allege the devices, which are sewn into the vaginal wall, are dangerous and shrink over time – something about which they weren’t warned – and cause organ damage leading to painful sexual intercourse, among other problems.
Cisson is just one company facing these claims. Others include Boston Scientific Corp., Johnson & Johnson and Endo Health Solutions, Inc.
Plaintiff in this case was a public health nurse from Georgia who underwent surgery to have defendant’s device implanted because organs were collapsing in her pelvic region, which is a condition that mostly affects older women and those who have had children.
But the device became painful. She experienced severe bleeding and spasms of the bladder. She had to undergo numerous surgeries to have the device removed.
Her lawyers argued over the course of the trial, which lasted two weeks, that the manufacturer ignored defect warnings about the devices and continued to market them and failed to disclose what they knew about the possible dangers. The company was allegedly aware the implants were comprised of a type of plastic that isn’t supposed to be placed permanently in the human body.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the company assert they did comply with industry standards in making the implants and they shouldn’t have been punished because they had no intention to harm the plaintiffs.
Jurors disagreed. They concluded the devices were designed defectively and the company didn’t warn doctors or patients about the potential problems. Jurors also found officials at the company acted with malice, fraud or wantonness and should be punished (hence the punitive damages).
C.R. Bard promised to appeal, and that’s what they did, to the federal appeals court. The company alleged the district court was wrong to not allow defendant to present evidence showing that it had complied with the product safety process as laid out by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Trial court had determined that was not relevant. Defendant also argued district court was wrong to allow plaintiff’s evidence of an expert analysis of the plastic material used to make the mesh devices, saying it was hearsay. Finally, defendant argued trial judge should have allowed a modified jury instruction.
The appeals court rejected all of those arguments and affirmed, which sets a good precedent for future cases. Unfortunately, though, plaintiff’s damages for her product liability lawsuit were significantly undercut by Georgia state law, something the appeals court ruled was constitutional, against plaintiff’s complaint that it wasn’t.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently upgraded certain transvaginal mesh products as “high-risk medical devices” that must meet strict safety assessments. The proposal was first made in April 2014, but was finalized this month.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Cisson v. C.R. Bard, Jan. 14, 2016, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit
More Blog Entries:
Palmer v. 999 Quebec, Inc. – Mesothelioma Secondary Exposure Lawsuit, Jan. 15, 2016, Rock Hill Personal Injury Attorney Blog