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Bristol-Myers Supreme Court case does not apply to pelvic mesh lawsuit

A woman who won a $12.8 million verdict two years ago in a medical product liability case over transvaginal mesh – a pelvic mesh lawsuit – will get to keep her jury-awarded claims and damages. That’s because a Pennsylvania appeals court didn’t buy non jurisdiction arguments in the state’s first test of last summer’s high-profile U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California.

Patricia Hammons’ case was the first in the pelvic mesh mass tort litigation in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where there are more than pelvic mesh 100 similar cases waiting. It was brought forward in 2013, after Hammons, who had the Prolift mesh surgically implanted in her body in 2009 – had three corrective surgeries to fix medical problems that included incontinence and extreme pain during sexual intercourse.

Medical experts testified that the design of the Prolift mesh – which is intended to hold in place internal organs that threaten to come out of a patient’s rectum or vagina — was defective, too heavy and could cause severe inflammation. None of those warnings were provided before the implant, Hammons said in court.

Even her doctor testified that he would not have recommended Prolift to Hammons had the company been more transparent and adequately informed him of the risks.

A jury in 2016 awarded Hammons a $5.5 million medical claim and $7 million in damages.

A year later, the Bristol-Myers SCOTUS decision ruled that hundreds of out-of-state plaintiffs in a case against a blood thinner made by the pharmaceutical giant had no standing in California court.

Attorneys for Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson that sells the Prolift mesh, tried to vacate the 2016 verdict on the Bristol-Myers case because Hammons lives in Indiana. But while in California, the plaintiffs’ attorneys could not establish any real connections between the drug company and the state, that was not the case in Pennsylvania. In Hammons’ case, the court found in favor of jurisdiction because Philadelphia-based Secant Medical Inc., manufactures the mesh.

The 82-page opinion by Judge Victor P. Stabile found that Ethicon had sufficient ties to the state to be liable.

The Hammons case is one of several where Ethicon has lost costly verdicts against Prolift. In April, an Indiana jury awarded $35 million in damages. A New Jersey jury issued a $15 million damage award against the company in December. To stay updated with this case and cases like it, connect with Smart Legal Solutions.