A jury in a Dallas state court has ordered health care giant Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon subsidiary to pay $1.2 million in compensatory damages to a woman who alleged she was injured by a transvaginal mesh implant used to treat incontinence. Jurors decided the design of the TVT-O mesh sling, often referred to as a “bladder sling,” was flawed. As a result of this defective design, they found Linda Batiste suffered pain and serious injury when the mesh eroded inside her. Ms. Batiste was represented by Thomas Cartmell of Wagstaff, Cartmell and Rich Freese of Freese and Goss.

“Thousands of women have experienced life-altering injuries as a result of these defectively designed mesh implants,” says Beasley Allen lawyer Leigh O’Dell, who is serving on the Plaintiffs Steering Committee (PSC) for the multidistrict litigation surrounding these devices. “These devices were never studied in women prior to being placed on the market. Yet Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers marketed these products without regard to safety and, as a result, more than a million women have been implanted with these devices, creating a public health problem of enormous proportions. The lawyers who represented Ms. Batiste in this case did a great job, and are to be commended. Unfortunately, no amount of money will make up for what she lost in quality of life.”

The verdict is significant because it is the first involving the bladder sling product, as opposed to a pelvic organ prolapse product. “The PSC has done an excellent job preparing the case involving bladder slings,” said O’Dell. “This verdict is evidence we can prove these cases in jurisdictions around the country.”

J&J and Ethicon, which is the women’s health and urology division of the company, face more than 12,000 pending lawsuits regarding the mesh implants. Most of the cases are consolidated before a federal judge in West Virginia, while other cases, like Ms. Batiste’s, are being heard in state courts.

Thousands of women have filed claims alleging they suffered injuries after being implanted with transvaginal mesh, also known as vaginal mesh, transvaginal tape or a bladder sling. Transvaginal mesh is used to repair conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI). The mesh is implanted through the vagina and is used to shore up pelvic organs that have become displaced due to age, childbirth, hysterectomy or obesity.

The most common problems with transvaginal mesh include erosion into surrounding tissue and extrusion into organs. Transvaginal mesh side effects include chronic pain, disability, hemorrhaging, infections, incontinence, and painful sexual intercourse. It can take numerous surgeries to remove the mesh and, even then, a full recovery is not guaranteed. Reports of complications led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a safety announcement warning that injuries with transvaginal mesh were not uncommon and could lead to multiple surgeries, hospitalizations and even death.

In addition to Johnson & Johnson / Ethicon, other transvaginal mesh manufacturers who are facing litigation surrounding the devices include C.R. Bard Inc., Boston Scientific, and Caldera.


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