J&J's $12.5M Mesh Verdict Upheld By Pa. Supreme Court

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On Wednesday, Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) subsidiary Ethicon Inc.'s arguments over jurisdiction limitation on a Philadelphia-based claim against its pelvic mesh implant, which ended in $12.5 million in damages.

The lawsuit involves an Indiana woman who sued the New Jersey-based company in Philadelphia after suffering injuries from the transvaginal mesh device that was manufactured in Pennsylvania under Ethicon’s administration. In 2015, a Philadelphia County jury awarded the woman $12.5 million in damages over the claims that the defective Prolift implant perforated her bladder, resulting in several surgeries for revision.

Ethicon argued over the decision claiming jurisdictional limitation, referring to the Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) v. California case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that BMS did not have adequate business ties with California over claims from some 600 out-of-state residents who filed lawsuits against the blood thinner Plavix.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Max Bayer noted that the court had jurisdiction over the claims even though neither the plaintiff nor J&J was residents of the state, but the mesh used in the device was manufactured there.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court's 6-1 ruling affirmed that factual distinctions in Ethicon's case rendered the BMS decision inapplicable, and the company's activities in Pennsylvania were sufficient to accord jurisdiction to the Pennsylvania courts, attorneys representing the plaintiff noted.

Chief Justice Thomas Saylor was the lone dissenter who voted against the six, stating that the BMS decision is enough to make it clear that a connection was required between the forum and the specific claims at issue.

The case is considered to be a part of Ethicon's long-running effort to remove all mesh-related claims from non-Pennsylvania residents out of the mass tort program in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, and, as of now, around $47 million in damages has been awarded to non-Pennsylvania residents in trials in Philadelphia.

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