Johnson & Johnson Lost Evidence in Vaginal Mesh Case

Johnson & Johnson Lost Evidence in Vaginal Mesh Case

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 19-Feb-2014

Abdominal Cramps

Vaginal mesh implants, used in thousands of women for the treatment and prevention of pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, have been associated with countless complications. Johnson & Johnson, whose Ethicon unit produced the surgical mesh products, is facing litigation from many women who were harmed by the products.

The discovery in the lawsuits has been consolidated in what is known as Multi District Litigation. Each woman has a unique set of circumstances, but discovery of the liability issues is consolidated to serve an economy of judicial time and costs to all parties. The damages for each individual are distinct and must be evaluated on an individual basis.

Recently, a federal judge said Ethicon acted negligently in losing or destroying thousands of documents related to the cases, potentially impacting the outcome of its trial.

Were documents "lost" or were they destroyed?

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cheryl Eifert did not make the determination on what happened to the missing files and documents, but said Ethicon acted negligently in its management of them.

For its part, Ethicon admits the documents and files are gone, leaving gaps in the data as far back as 2007. It says the files were lost with employee turnover and mismanagement of the file-management system, according to Bloomberg News. But Ethicon also says many of the documents were available elsewhere.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs want the trial judge to allow jurors to hear about the missing files, though lawyers for Ethicon only support this if the plaintiffs can show the destruction of files puts them at a disadvantage. In other words, the defendants want the women to prove that the destruction of the evidence hurt them in some manner-not necessarily an easy feat without clear knowledge of what was contained in the missing files.

Transvaginal mesh products dangerous and harmful

Varieties of vaginal mesh implants were introduced in 2005, approved through a controversial process known as the FDA's 501(k) clause, which essentially speeds up the approval process and results in less safety testing before a medical device hits the market. Many believe it's this approval process that is to blame for allowing the dangerous products on the market in the first place.

Thousands of women suffered ill effects from these implants including severe pain, nerve damage, scarring, infection, bleeding, vaginal shrinkage, painful intercourse, emotional problems, organ damage, and neuro-muscular problems. For many, follow-up surgeries to fix and remove the implants made the recovery from their failed use even longer and more difficult.

Still, Johnson & Johnson didn't take their products off the market until 2012.

Victims of the defective vaginal mesh implants have a right to seek justice following their ordeals. But the admission now that the defense "lost" documents and files related to the case only adds insult to injury.

Pharmaceutical companies and those large corporations who manufacture medical devices are not in the business to help people-they are in the business of making money. And sometimes this means sending a product onto the market before it's gone through rigorous testing. Sometimes this means releasing a product when they already know it will hurt people.

As complications from trans-vaginal implants began coming to light, it was realized that companies like Johnson & Johnson were aware of their risks long before the women who suffered the consequences. In other words, they exposed the victims to unnecessary pain and suffering to reap a profit.

Like dangerous prescription drugs, trans-vaginal mesh implants are the result of an overzealous industry more focused on the almighty dollar than patient safety and well-being. Victims of this industry must hold the large corporations accountable for their negligence if we hope to rein in this dangerous practice.

Categories: Defective Products
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