A West Virginia federal jury has found C.R. Bard Inc. responsible for injuries a woman suffered from a defective vaginal mesh implant. The jurors returned a $2 million verdict against Bard in the case. This was a bellwether trial in the multidistrict litigation (MDL). The jury found that Donna Cisson had proven her design defect and failure-to-warn claims related to Bard’s Avaulta Plus Posterior BioSynthetic Support System, which had eroded and caused severe internal injuries to Ms. Cisson after it was implanted to treat a pelvic organ prolapse. The jury awarded her $1.75 million in punitive damages in addition to a $250,000 compensatory award. The jurors found that Bard, the device maker, had shown a conscious indifference to patient consequences in developing the product.
Bard failed to convince the jury that Ms. Cisson knew and understood the dangers of having the Avaulta Plus product implanted when she consented to the procedure. Bard claimed she knowingly assumed those risks, which is absolutely absurd. The verdict was reached after a 13-day trial. Bard says it will appeal.
The Cisson lawsuit is one of four bellwethers in the West Virginia MDL and is the first to go to trial in federal court out of a group of suits brought by thousands of women over injuries caused by the Avaulta transvaginal mesh implants. These implants are used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence. Johnson & Johnson unit Ethicon Inc., Boston Scientific Corp. and Endo Pharmaceuticals unit American Medical Systems Holdings Inc. also face separate multidistrict litigation in West Virginia over their own implants. Ms. Cisson claimed that after being implanted with the Avaulta Plus product to treat her rectal prolapse, she suffered bleeding, spotting, rectal pain, bladder spasms and pain during sexual intercourse.
The symptoms were tied to Bard’s use of pig-skin collagen in the mesh products, which the company knew increased the likelihood of chronic inflammation and adverse tissue reactions. Additionally, a thermoplastic polymer called polypropylene used in the products is prone to degradation and shrinkage once inside a patient. Ms. Cisson and the other bellwether Plaintiffs each required invasive follow-up procedures to remove loose pieces of mesh that damaged their pelvic region. It should be noted that none of the manufacturers ever tested the transvaginal mesh implant products before putting them on the market. That, while true, is actually unbelievable!
In June, U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin had dismissed Ms. Cisson’s claims for manufacturing defect, breach of express and implied warranty, and negligent inspection, marketing, packaging and selling, but he declined to dismiss her failure-to-warn claim under the learned intermediary doctrine. Judge Goodwin ruled that a jury would have to decide if Bard had properly advised Ms. Cisson’s physician of the mesh product’s risks. As we reported, the first trial of Ms. Cisson’s case ended in a mistrial July 10 after an expert witness entered improper testimony regarding the removal of the products from the U.S. market. The second jury found in Ms. Cisson’s favor on all but one count, and that being a ruling in favor of Bard on the husband’s claim for loss of consortium.
Ms. Cisson is represented by Henry G. Garrand, Gary B. Blasingame, James B. Matthews III, Andrew J. Hill III and Josh B. Wages lawyer, with Blasingame Burch Garrard & Ashley. These lawyers did an excellent job for Ms. Cisson in this very important case. The case is Cisson et al. v. C.R. Bard Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. For your information, the MDL is In re: C.R. Bard Inc. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, which is in the same court.
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