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Transvaginal Mesh Legal News Update: Jury Award Upheld

On October 18, 2013, Judge Joseph R. Goodwin, a U.S. District Judge of the Southern District of West Virginia, upheld the jury verdict awarded to a woman who had filed a transvaginal mesh lawsuit against C.R. Bard. The transvaginal mesh lawsuit award included $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages.

This lawsuit was the first federal trial with regards to the Avaulta line of transvaginal mesh products designed and manufactured by Bard. This transvaginal mesh legal news is expected to set a trend for the remaining litigation still pending against the company.

Transvaginal mesh legal news

C.R. Bard had filed a motion to vacate the jury award, stating that insufficient evidence was presented during the trial to substantiate the plaintiff’s claims. During the trial, the plaintiff had argued that not only was Bard’s product responsible for her injuries, but that the company knew of the risks of the product’s design and manufacture.

Judge Goodwin agreed with the plaintiff, finding that her lawyers had presented before the court a Material Data Safety Sheet that Bard had obtained from Chevron Phillips, the company’s supplier. This document warned Bard that the specific material used in the Avaulta transvaginal mesh product was unfit for permanent implantation in humans, and that there were risks involved with “permanent contact with internal body fluids or tissues.”

According to the Judge’s Order, he found that Bard was given sufficient warning against the use of the material, and that the company engaged in surreptitious actions to obtain the material without alerting Chevron Phillips as to the true intentions for its use. The Judge further noted that despite the significant risks involved, the company failed to conduct human trials to establish safety before marketing the product.

Plaintiff wins $2 million transvaginal mesh lawsuit award

The material at the heart of the controversy is known as polypropylene. It is a type of plastic used in the design of the transvaginal mesh product, which is intended to treat symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse (POP). The product is surgically implanted into a woman’s body to provide support for the pelvic organs. However, these products have been associated with a wide range of debilitating side effects. This particular plaintiff, along with many others, alleged that the Bard Avaulta mesh product caused her excruciating pain, particularly during intercourse and during gynecological exams.

The plaintiff also alleged that she cannot sit without enduring significant pain. Furthermore, the device was found to have eroded and extruded, causing internal scarring and inflammation.

“Finally, there is evidence to suggest that Bard understood the dangers of using polypropylene for tissue repair, including a higher risk of erosion and infection; a greater amount of scar tissue formation around the mesh; and a tendency “to unravel, creating a sharp ‘fishing line’ effect, which can slice through patient’s tissue,” Judge Goodwin noted in his Order.

The Judge further noted that C.R. Bard had been turned down by one vendor, Shakespeare Co., who refused to sell polypropylene to Bard because it was unfit for use in humans. Yet, Bard allegedly ignored these warnings and went to considerable lengths to surreptitiously obtain the plastic.

Thousands of vaginal mesh lawsuits are still pending against C.R. Bard in multidistrict litigation, as well as a handful of other companies that have designed and sold transvaginal mesh products. It is thought that this transvaginal mesh legal news update may inform the involved parties as to future trends in jury reactions to the evidence. Transvaginal mesh companies may be more likely to consider settlements rather than risk large jury awards.