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Jury Awards $35 Million in Punitive Damages in Transvaginal Mesh Case

Bard HeadquartersA New Jersey jury has awarded a women $35 million in punitive damages over and above the $33 million awarded to her and her husband as compensation for the defective transvaginal mesh device.

Mary McGinnis, 70, had the company’s mesh models named Avaulta Solo and Align TO implanted March 12, 2009, during surgery to treat her bladder’s movement, called prolapse. Within months, she started to experience erosion, which happens when mesh wears through internal tissue.

In addition to the physical complications due to the defective medical device, the pain she endured was described as “beyond debilitating”.  Since the original surgery in 2009, McGinnis suffered through three additional revision surgeries attempting to correct the issues associated with the original transvaginal mesh device.

The jury found that two pelvic mesh devices developed and sold by New Jersey-based C.R. Bard Inc. were faulty, and that the plaintiff, Mary McGinnis, was never adequately informed of the risks. Late Thursday, the jury awarded McGinnis and her husband, Thomas, compensatory damages of $33 million. On Friday, the jury returned to decide if punitive damages were warranted, and awarded the couple an additional $35 million.

In awarding punitive damages, the jury found that the C.R. Bard had acted either with “malicious intent” or “wanton and willful disregard” for McGinnis’ health when they put the products on the market in 2008. The jury held C.R. Bard liable for two products that McGinnis had implanted in March of 2009: an Avaulta Solo mesh, and an Align Transobturator. Both products have been taken off the market.

The jury believed the testimony introduced at trial that C.R. Bard, the manufacturer of the faulty transvaginal mesh, had not tested the product and knew that the material used in the manufacturing of the device could cause permanent and painful injuries to patients.

The jury verdict was the latest huge award in a product liability case involving pelvic mesh implants, which are meant to treat organ prolapse, a common problem that women face after menopause. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturers of these devices, and although few cases have come to trial, juries have consistently sided with the plaintiffs and delivered huge awards.

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