After ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay $3.35 Million in compensatory damages last Monday for damages caused to a women by J&J's failure to warn about the risks associated with its Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh implant, a New Jersey jury determined that J&J's conduct warranted the assessment of punitive damages and assessed punitive damages in the amount of $7.76 Million on Thursday. The punitive damage verdict means the jury determined that Johnson & Johnson's conduct was malicious and/or in wanton and willful disregard of the plaintiff's rights. West Virginia has a similar standard for punitive damages and a jury may assess such damages in West Virginia if it finds that the defendant's conduct was reckless and/or willful, wanton, and malicious and/or in disregard to the civil rights of others.
Punitive damages are assessed in order to punish a defendant and to deter other reckless corporations from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are assessed when a corporation or other defendant has acted in an especially egregious or outrageous manner and to discourage the defendant and others from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are assessed in addition to compensatory damages which are designed to compensate the plaintiff or make him/her whole.
The New Jersey jury's punitive damage verdict is a clear sign that the type of egregious conduct displayed by Johnson & Johnson will not be tolerated. Corporations who wish to do business in our states cannot put profits ahead of consumer safety. Because of J&J's failure to warn about known risks associated with its product, the plaintiff in the subject case was forced to undergo 18 revision surgeries and will be required to endure a lifetime full of unbearable pain and suffering. The risks and dangers associated with the transvaginal mesh implant were never conveyed to the plaintiff before she had the mesh implanted in 2006 for pelvic organ prolapse. The assessment of $7.76 Million in punitive damages is a strong message by the jury that it hopes this verdict will deter J&J and other reckless corporations from conducting business in this manner in the future and profiting from such reprehensible conduct.
This is the first failure to warn/products liability case tried against Johnson and Johnson for its Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh implant. Johnson and Johnson faces thousands of other lawsuits by women who have been similarly injured by its transvaginal mesh. Vaginal mesh manufacturers C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, and Boston Scientific also face thousands of lawsuits for damages caused by their defective transvaginal mesh products and failure to warn about certain risks. Many of these lawsuits have been consolidated in West Virginia for pretrial purposes.
To learn more about transvaginal mesh lawsuits in West Virginia, contact one of our West Virginia Transvaginal Mesh Lawyers or click here.