C.R. Bard Inc. lost its appeal of a jury’s $2 million verdict in a bellwether trial that found the medical device maker liable for a woman’s injuries from defective vaginal mesh implants when the Fourth Circuit found the trial court properly decided which evidence to exclude. A three-judge panel turned down several arguments from Bard over whether evidence involving safety warnings for its Avaulta Plus transvaginal mesh device was properly excluded and evidence involving U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance properly included in the trial assessing the company’s responsibility for Donna Cisson’s injuries.
The court affirmed that the $1.75 million in punitive damages, in comparison with $250,000 in compensatory damages, wasn’t excessive. Ms. Cisson won the multidistrict litigation (MDL)’s first bellwether trial in August 2013, in which she claimed that after being implanted with the Avaulta Plus device to treat her rectal prolapse, she suffered bleeding, spotting, rectal pain, bladder spasms and pain during sexual intercourse. Ms. Cisson and the other bellwether Plaintiffs each required invasive follow-up procedures to remove loose pieces of mesh that damaged their pelvic region, according to court records.
Ms. Cisson’s suit 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 allegedly caused by the implants, which are used to treat 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 is represented by Elliot H. Scherker, Lori G. Cohen, R. Clifton Merrell II, Sean P. Jessee, Daniel I.A. Smulian, Brigid F. Cech Samole and Jay A. Yagoda of Greenberg Traurig LLP and Melissa Foster Bird of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.
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