Jury rules in favor of plaintiffs in first vaginal mesh case - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

GA woman receives $2 million judgment in vaginal mesh case

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A federal jury in West Virginia recently awarded a Georgia woman $250,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in punitive damages in the first of four "bellwether" cases spanning many federal suits challenging companies that manufactured trans-vaginal mesh.

Donna Cisson and Dan Cisson filed the federal suit March 10 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against the New Jersey company C.R. Bard Inc. The case was transferred to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

The suit said Donna Cisson had the Avaulta Plus Posterior BioSynthetic Support system implanted to treat pelvic organ prolapse.

Cisson said the product caused her permanent injury and a substantial physical deformity, which caused her to have surgery and will cause her to undergo future corrective surgeries.

Cisson's complaint listed allegations of negligence, strict liability-design defect, strict liability-manufacturing defect, strict liability-failure to warn, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, loss of consortium and punitive damages.

In its answer, the company responded Cisson failed to state a claim for which relief could be granted and if Cisson did sustain damages, it was because of negligence of an entity and the company was not responsible.

Bard also alleged injuries and damages may be due to idiosyncratic reactions or pre-existing conditions.

The trial originally started in July but ended two days later in a mistrial. The most recent trial began July 29 and went to the jury Aug. 14.

In their Aug. 15 verdict, jurors decided Cisson proved her design defect and failure to warn claim. The jury found that Dan Cisson did not prove his claim for loss of consortium.

The Cisson case is one of four "bellwether" cases: Queen et al v. CR Bard Inc, Rizzo et al v. CR Bard Inc and Jones v. CR Bard Inc.

Court officials explained that "bellwether" cases are similar cases grouped together and are expected to influence a larger group of cases.

Officials estimate more than 20,000 trans-vaginal mesh cases have been filed as part of the multi district litigation.

According to the federal court's website, this type of litigation happens when litigation is pending in more than one federal district court involving common questions of fact.

Cases involving civil actions may be transferred by the judicial panel — a group of seven federal judges — to any federal court. In this case, litigation was centralized in the federal courthouse in Charleston.

Pelvic support and repair system products litigation against American Medical Systems Inc., Boston Scientific Corp, Ethicon Inc., Coloplast Corp and Cook Medical Inc. also are taking place in the Southern District of West Virginia.

According to The Bell Law Firm's pharmaceutical products blog, the first trans-vaginal mesh case went to trial in California, ending in the jury awarding $5.5 million to a woman asserting organ damage due to a faulty mesh implant made by CR Bard.

According to the website of Cleveland law firm Anderson Law Offices LLC, if cases are not resolved through multidistrict litigation, they go back to the court in which they were originally filed.

"While some might view Mrs. Cisson's award as small — at least as compared to the award of $5.5 million awarded in California state court to a prior plaintiff in an Avaulta mesh case, we must remember that compensatory damages are informed by actual harms caused — not sympathy, and not a desire to punish the liable party — and are decided by jurors who have heard all the testimony and seen all the exhibits first-hand. No one should be discouraged by this award," said Rochelle Rottenstein, the principal of a New York-based product liability firm that represent thousands of women who claim they were injured by vaginal mesh, in a statement following the West Virginia verdict.

"What's important is the verdict that Bard is responsible for the victim's injuries."