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$13 Million Dollar Verdict Reached Against Ethicon in Philadelphia TVM Case

Cassie Perez

Written by
— Updated on June 23, 2020

$13 Million Dollar Verdict Reached Against Ethicon in Philadelphia TVM Case

Philadelphia TVM VerdictTwo recent verdicts in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas may potentially influence settlement discussions in 31,000 claims against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Ethicon. In the recent verdict decided February 10, 2016, the jury awarded Sharon Carlino $3.5 million in personal damages and $10 million in punitive damages in her claim against Ethicon.

Carlino’s attorneys, Kline & Specter, P.C., also represented Patria Hammons in December 2015 in her claims against Ethicon, alleging gross negligence and reckless disregard for the safety of consumers. Hammons was awarded $5.5 million in compensatory damages and $7 million in punitive damages.  

The verdict in these Philadelphia cases may have vast implications for TVM litigation; encouraging Ethicon and other defendants similarly situated to settle in order to lower their litigation costs. The timing of these verdicts is especially important in light of the seven MDLs currently assigned to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, overseen by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin. Some of the defendants in these MDL’s include Ethicon, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, and C.R. Bard, totaling about 74,000 lawsuits pending against them due to injuries allegedly caused by TVM.

Similar to the Philadelphia verdicts, other plaintiffs have seen substantial awards in individual TVM trials. In a May 2015 trial in New Castle county Delaware, Boston Scientific was ordered to pay the plaintiff $25 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in punitive damages. However, Judge Mary Johnston found the award to be “grossly disproportionate to the injuries suffered”. She held that it shocked the court’s conscience and sense of justice. Instead of ordering a new trial, the award was reduced to $10 million.

This reduction in damages was similar to a Texas plaintiff who sued Boston Scientific in September 2014. The plaintiff’s award of $23 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages but the award was reduced to $34.6 million due to a Texas statute capping punitive damages.

In MDL litigation, mass settlements are not unusual – especially when dealing with a mass medical tort like TVM.

In October 2014, Endo International PLC agreed to pay more than $400 million to resolve 10,000 lawsuits. Each plaintiff in these cases would receive about $48,000. Similarly, in August 2015 C.R. Bard agreed to pay more than $200 million to settle at least 3,000 transvaginal mesh lawsuits. The plaintiffs received $67,000 each. This settlement only extended to one-fifth of outstanding lawsuits.

Some of the proposed settlements in the Ethicon MDL would result in damages averaging $41,500 for each plaintiff. This is significantly lower than the larger amounts recently awarded in individual trials. After losing their first TVM trial in 2013, Judge Goodwin suggested to C.R Bard that they settle more cases to avoid the potential for billions of dollars in injury verdicts.

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