Can you imagine undergoing surgery to change your life for the better, but realize the product surgically implanted placed you in a prison of pain?
The plaintiff, Linda Gross, a nurse from South Dakota, represented by the law firm Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman, sued and won a trial verdict of $11.1 million against the manufacturer of the pelvic mesh that was implanted in her. Gross spoke out on PBS’ program, “Need to Know” and told viewers her doctor recommended what is known to be a minimally invasive surgery to implant synthetic mesh manufactured by Ethicon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Gross inquired whether the mesh could be removed and her doctor advised her that the mesh was removable. She stated that there was nothing in the brochure indicating that it was permanent. Gross stated that prior to the surgery she was active, independent, and enjoyed camping, hiking, and fishing prior to receiving the surgically implanted synthetic mesh that ruined the quality of her life. Gross told viewers she could no longer be intimate, had to give up her job, and takes narcotics in an attempt to temper her pain. Gross now spends much of her day at home.
Gross experienced severe pain immediately after surgery and it took fifteen days for her bladder to “restart.” She said that the pain became unbearable and she was no longer able to even do simple tasks like washing dishes. Gross decided to have the mesh removed, but this was difficult to do because the mesh had become entangled with her own tissues that grew in and around the mesh. Gross has now endured twenty-two surgeries to remove pieces of the mesh; and yet, there are still mesh pieces that remain in her body. Gross described the surgeries as like removing “bubble gum from your hair.” Furthermore, Gross stated she felt very confident going into surgery to have the mesh implanted.
Gross’s cause of action was based on the assertion Ethicon created its mesh product with defective design and manufacture, and further, that Ethicon did not provide appropriate warnings and instructions to both consumers and doctors. Adam Slater, Gross’ representing attorney, identified and represented to the jury at trial that Ethicon knew of the unacceptable risk as evidenced by internal emails. Slater stated on PBS, “Two months before [the mesh] was marketed, the person who helped develop it wrote a warning . . . for sexually active women. This went up the chain and . . . in order to save the time, effort, and money they said we will just warn later.” Ethicon even heard that there was one case where a woman had a permanently destroyed vagina. They also heard that “returning for surgery to deal with a bad Prolift will be a disaster.” Slater went on to say Ethicon knew women suffered from longstanding urinary retention. One internal email read, “If this starts getting reported, it is going to scare the daylights out of docs.”
Slater stated in the PBS special Ethicon rushed to get the product to market in order to sell it to as many consumers as possible, before a competing manufacturer would have the chance to do the same. In the process, Ethicon willfully disregarded the known dangers of its mesh product. Furthermore, Ethicon fraudulently misrepresented the product to both Gross and her surgeon.
Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman, LLC and their New Jersey law firm routinely represent individuals who have been seriously injured by dangerous and defective products. Our attorneys have substantial experience in product liability law, and one of our partners is a co-author of the leading New Jersey product liability law book. Many of our attorneys’ cases have been against some of the largest product manufacturers in the world. Our successes include a $33.9 million settlement for a defective product which injured our client while he was working. This is the largest products liability recovery in New Jersey history. Our successes also include a $4.15 million settlement for an employee who suffered a brain injury after a hutch fell on him while he was at his desk, a $2 million settlement with the manufacturer of an amusement ride, and the $1.9 million jury verdict for a serious back injury suffered by a man who used a defective chair. The firm recently won Gross a $11.1 million verdict at trial.