U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin has ruled in favor of the Plaintiff in allowing a $2 million verdict against transvaginal mesh manufacturer C.R. Bard to stand. The jury verdict was handed down in the first federal lawsuit to go to trial related to injuries caused by defective vaginal mesh implants.
Plaintiff Donna Cisson filed the product-injury complaint against C.R. Bard after suffering severe injuries and debilitating pain she received from an Avaulta transvaginal mesh device that she had implanted in 2009 to correct a form of pelvic organ prolapse. Her case was the first to be tried out of more than 23,000 lawsuits against Bard and five other transvaginal mesh manufacturers that have been consolidated for multidistrict litigation (MDL) in federal court in West Virginia. More than 4,000 of those complaints name Bard as a defendant.
The jury in the Cisson case awarded the Plaintiff $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages. Ms. Cission is one of thousands of women who have received transvaginal mesh to repair common pelvic floor disorders including stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
Judge Goodwin ruled that Ms. Cission did not need to prove the precise nature of a defect as a required element under Georgia product liability law. He ruled the jury had reasonable evidentiary basis for the complaint’s design defect claim. In his ruling, Judge Goodwin said:
It was not necessary for the plaintiffs to specify the exact defect in the Avaulta Plus that injured Ms. Cisson, as long as they presented evidence to demonstrate that the device did not function as intended, and that it proximately caused Ms. Cisson’s injuries.
Related to the failure-to-warn claim, Judge Goodwin ruled that Bard allegedly knew the composition of its product increased the risk of complications, but the company did not let physicians know about the risk. Additionally, the judge said there was “abundant evidence” that the physician would not have implanted the device if he had access to all the information Bard had.
This case is Cission et al. v. C.R. Bard Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. The MDL is In re: C.R. Bard Inc. Pelvic Repair System Products Liability Litigation, in the same court.
Sources: Law 360; Bloomberg and RightingInjustice.com
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