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J&J Lose Third Straight Bellwether Trial in Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit

On May 03, 2017

When news broke late in the afternoon on Friday, April 28, that Johnson & Johnson had lost another bellwether trial in the ongoing multidistrict litigation (MDL) against their vaginal mesh insert products, many people who have been affected by these devices were probably left wondering what this latest jury award meant for their claim. Many legal analysts believe that this latest decision could be a sign that J&J should consider a comprehensive settlement to end litigation in all of the pending cases.

One such analyst, Carl Tobias, who teaches product liability law at the University of Richmond in Virginia, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying "it would be silly to continue taking these cases to trial when they are losing. There's no sense in continuing to shell out for the defense costs and suffer the reputation damage that comes with each win by the plaintiffs." 

Many experts have also stated that J&J withdrawing the majority of their pelvic mesh products from the market in 2012 may have influenced many people's opinions on their safety. The company has never admitted publicly that there was anything inherently dangerous about the design, the decision to discontinue these products came just six months after regulators ordered J&J and other manufacturers to conduct further studies into the health risks associated with these devices.

With more than 54,000 claims pending around the country in the transvaginal mesh lawsuit, it will be interesting to see what J&J does in response to this latest verdict. They have been ordered to pay over $35M in these types of cases since 2014, and early last year the company set aside $120M to settle future lawsuits. It would certainly make financial sense for the company to attempt to find a comprehensive solution to these claims.

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