Defective Mesh Costs Boston Scientific $73 Million
More than 12,000 lawsuits have been filed against Boston Scientific for producing and selling a defectively designed vaginal mesh implant. After the company won the first two cases to reach trial over its incontinence slings, it has now been defeated by a Texas woman who was awarded $73 million in damages earlier this month.
Vaginal mesh implants have been a hot topic in the medical and legal communities for years now, with many patients experiencing constant pain and organ damage after undergoing mesh implantation surgery to treat incontinence. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and more than 30 other vaginal implant makers to study rates of organ damage and complications. And when the FDA continued to receive complaints from women, it proposed to reclassify mesh slings from moderate risk to high risk.
The Texas verdict comes less than a week after a federal jury in West Virginia found Ethicon Inc.’s bladder mesh sling was defectively designed and ordered the company to pay $3.27 million in damages. Ethicon, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, also lost a case in April, costing $1.2 million. From $1.2 million to $73 million in 5 months—these cases show that vaginal mesh victims are increasingly likely to receive compensation for their injuries.
What accounts for the enormous increase in the verdicts? Most likely, the main reason behind the huge damage award against Boston Scientific, most of which was for punitive damages, is due to an internal company email discovered by the plaintiff.
Based on its own company-funded study, Boston Scientific allegedly knew its mesh inserts posed a safety risk to patients, but chose to ignore rather than reveal their findings. The internal email, presented to the jury, even cautioned against distributing the negative vaginal mesh study to doctors because it would not be “useful to the sales force in terms of helping defend business or selling more slings.”