In recent posts, we’ve discussed the ongoing problems with meshes, initially developed to treat hernias but adapted for use to treat urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). In all their uses, however, many mesh products have been found to be poorly designed and defective, and when implanted, they result in chronic pain, infections, and lasting nerve damage. In such cases, a properly implanted mesh that is also defective has led Florida patients to sue the manufacturer for their personal injuries.
In the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, two women filed separate lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary that designed, developed, manufactured, marketed, and distributed their Physiomesh brand of hernia meshes. The Physiomesh differs from other hernia meshes because it is made from a patented flexible composite. (No other mesh is designed and made this way in the United States.)
After it was determined that there were greater-than-average rates of post-implantation problems in patients with the Physiomesh, it was voluntarily recalled. After the recall, two Florida women sued J&J and Ethicon, alleging a design defect. They both complained of bodily injuries, suffering chronic and severe pain, and had to undergo further surgeries to repair damages from the implantation of the mesh.
In Joanne Quinn v. Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson (M.D. Fla. 2016), Quinn complained of severe bowel and abdominal wall adhesions that were caused by the defective mesh. She then required surgery to remove the mesh; the doctor, however, was unable to remove all of it. As a result, she will suffer pain, severe and permanent bodily injuries, and significant mental anguish as well as economic loss for the rest of her life.
In the other Florida lawsuit against J&J and Ethicon, Diana Jane Picolla also complained of suffering personal injuries and needing to undergo multiple reparative surgeries to remove a Physiomesh, which was implanted to repair a hernia. She continues to suffer physical pain and mental anguish.
Under Florida’s products liability law, manufacturers are strictly liable for personal injuries when a product is determined to have been defective in design when it left the manufacturer. The manufacturer can be liable for damages when the doctor or surgeon inserted the medical device correctly but the product or device itself had been designed to be unreasonably dangerous. So, if plaintiffs can prove their injuries were caused by the implantation of a defective hernia mesh, then the manufacturer can be liable for all damages.