A Texas state jury blasted Boston Scientific Corp. with a $73.4 million verdict on Monday, finding that the company’s Obtryx-brand transvaginal sling was defectively designed and caused severe injuries, marking the first time the company has not prevailed in litigation over its pelvic mesh products.
A spokeswoman from the law firm Freese & Goss, which represented plaintiff Martha Salazar, confirmed the verdict following a two-week trial in Dallas. Salazar’s suit was only the third case to go to trial anywhere in the country involving Boston Scientific’s pelvic mesh products, the first to go to trial in Texas state court, and the first to result in a verdict against the company.
The verdict consisted of approximately $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages. It is the largest verdict in any pelvic mesh trial to date.
The verdict is a marked change from two previous bellwether trials in Massachusetts state court involving Boston Scientific’s products, where the company was cleared of all liability. In August, a Middlesex County jury said the Obtryx sling was not defectively designed, and in July another jury in the same county made the same determination about the “Pinnacle Pelvic Floor Repair Kit.”
A spokeswoman for Boston Scientific said the company strongly disagrees with the jury’s finding and intends to appeal based on the strength of the evidence presented at trial, adding that the company is committed to delivering safe products.
Attorneys for the plaintiff were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of product liability lawsuits are pending against various pelvic mesh manufacturers in state and federal court across the country. Many have been consolidated before U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin into a sprawling multidistrict litigation in West Virginia.
Monday’s verdict comes on the heels of a federal jury in West Virginia slamming Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon Inc. with a $3.27 million verdict over the company’s TVT-O brand transvaginal sling at the first federal pelvic mesh trial against Ethicon to result in a plaintiff’s verdict. In February, the first case involving Ethicon’s pelvic mesh products to go to trial in federal court resulted in a directed verdict in Ethicon’s favor.
Prior to Boston Scientific’s two victories in Massachusetts, all three cases involving pelvic mesh products that went to trial in state courts resulted in verdicts favoring the plaintiffs. In April, another state court jury in Dallas found Ethicon’s TVT-O sling was defective, and the company lost at a bellwether trial in New Jersey state court in January 2013. In July 2012, C.R. Bard Inc. lost the first trial involving pelvic mesh products to go to trial anywhere in the country and later lost another suit in federal court in 2013.
Other mesh manufacturers have opted to settle their cases en masse instead of letting any claims go before a jury. In April, Endo International PLC reached an $830 million settlement resolving most of the 22,000 vaginal mesh suits against its American Medical Systems Inc. subsidiary.
The next pelvic mesh trial involving Boston Scientific is scheduled to begin in Florida federal court in November, according to court dockets. Judge Goodwin is expected to travel south from West Virginia to preside over the case.