Sanctions vs. Ethicon Requested by Plaintiffs for “Spoliation of Evidence”

For over 10 years, documents and other evidences vital to the vaginal mesh lawsuits filed against Ethicon were allegedly destroyed or lost in a systematic and continual manner. It is believed that over 600 pounds of paper documents in the company’s possession may have been deliberately wiped out.

This spoliation of evidence, which plaintiffs believe will have a critical impact on their claims, have led to the filing of a motion asking Judge Joseph Goodwin of the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia to impose severe sanctions against Ethicon.

The plaintiffs have requested the court to impose the following sanctions for this highly irregular action by the defendant:

  • To grant default judgments to claimants named in the initial bellwether cases involving the GYNECARE TVT and GYNECARE PROLIFT vaginal mesh devices.
  • To remove the statute of limitation for all future lawsuits brought against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
  • To find the defendants as ineligible to invoke the “learned intermediary” defense in all future hearings.
  • To issue “spoliation instructions” to all juries in future trials.
  • To hold Ethicon and J&J responsible for all reasonable legal fees related to the motion.

Read More: Ethicon Accused of Destroying Vaginal Mesh Evidence for About a Decade

Scottish Government Very Serious in Addressing Vaginal Mesh Problems

The government of Scotland appears to be very serious in dealing with the vaginal mesh problems experienced by a big number of women, online media sources report. No less than the Minister of Health and Well being have given personal attention to this matter.

At the moment, the government is working together with the National Health Service (NHS) in their efforts to find solutions for the thousands of women injured by vaginal mesh devices.

In a large part, this urgency may have been aided by the high interest shown by various sectors in Scotland. A series of articles dramatizing the plight of women who were gravely injured by these implants were highlighted in major dailies.

According to one article, a lawyer who is presently handling 300 women who have been injured by these devices have urged those who had mesh surgery to initiate legal actions against the NHS and mesh manufacturers even if they have not experienced any complications.

This stand of Attorney Cameron Fyfe finds support in the law that protects victims of asbestos exposure. Similar to these victims, women implanted with surgical mesh may manifest symptoms only after a number of years.

Read More: Scottish Lawyer Advises All Vaginal Mesh Recipients to Sue U.K. Health Care System

Prolift’s Safety, Efficacy Report Released despite Complications, Medical Director Admits

Long before the Gynecare Prolift vaginal mesh was launched in the market in 2005, Ethicon executives were well aware of its deficiencies,says a duly prepared documentation endorsing the highly-touted product.No less than its worldwide medical director, Dr. Charlotte Owens, has had his justification ready to explain certain issues concerning the formulation and its negative impact.

Dr. Owens testified during the trial of Linda Gross vs. Ethicon that she was aware that the Prolift could erode and retract. She further claimed that she was very concerned about this, knowing fully that this may cause a patient to sustain pain and injuries as a result of the complications arising from the use of these devices.
Yet, even with this supposed concern, in her capacity as the lead medical director of Ethicon, she proceeded with release of clinical expert report (CER). This document is very relevant since it assesses the safety and efficacy of any medical product that may be released for public use.

As expected, no mention was made on the possible complications such as mesh erosion, severe pain, shrinkage, and dyspareunia in this document. These are the same complications that were experienced by the plaintiff, Linda Gross, after she was implanted with the Prolift vaginal mesh in 2006.

Read More: Ethicon Doctor Omitted Risks From Reports

Medical Experts Say Chronic Pelvic Pain Poses Great Challenge

Chronic pelvic pain in women is a common problem setting a major challenge to healthcare providers because of its unclear causes, involvement of complex body organs, and poor response to treatment, online resources report, quoting medical experts. This condition has become prevalent in the United States where 39 percent of women are of child-bearing age encounter these symptoms — with almost a half of them claiming to have decreased productivity at work, according to findings of a recent study.

Chronic pelvic pain may be defined as a non-cyclic pain occurring below the navel which may last from six months or more as opposed to acute pain which is shorter in duration. Pain experienced by the woman should be severe enough to affect her functional ability and may need medical attention.

Among the most common causes of chronic pelvic pain are the following:

Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
Probably the most common cause of chronic pelvic pain among women is interstitial cystitis or IC which is responsible for over 33 percent of all reported cases. This condition, which usually affects women in their 30s and 40s, has been traced to an inflammation of the bladder due to an infection. The exact cause of this disease has yet to be established although symptoms may be relieved by the use of antibiotics.

The need to urinate frequently which may be multiple times in an hour is the most common indication of this disorder. Painful urination, feeling of pressure above the pubic area, and pain during sex are other symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

Endometriosis
Although found in females between the ages of 13 and 50, this condition is usually diagnosed in women in their 30s especially those who may have problems conceiving. Endometriosis has been characterized as the growth of endometrial tissues outside the uterus, usually in the bladder, fallopian tubes, ovaries, intestines, and other surrounding organs.

Endometriosis may not be considered life-threatening but this may cause extreme pelvic pain particularly during a woman’s period. This condition may also make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant due to scar tissues formed in the reproductive organs. Treatments are aimed at relieving symptoms since no cure has yet been discovered for this ailment.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Although not affecting the reproductive organs, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS may still cause severe and chronic pelvic pains to a woman. Medical experts agree that IBS is associated with digestive disorders although they have not yet identified the exact cause.

Recurring abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, diarrhea, or constipation are the usual symptoms although these may vary from one person to another. There are medications available to alleviate these symptoms but not to completely cure the disorder. This condition may also be addressed by other strategies such as diet changes and stress management.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Women who have given birth and those in the advancing years are most commonly affected by this condition. Pelvic organ prolapse or POP occurs when a pelvic organ such as bladder and uterus descends into a lower position. While this disorder may not be considered serious, it may be very disruptive and uncomfortable.

Among the indications of POP are chronic pain in the pelvic area, pressure against the vaginal wall, a feeling of being full in the lower belly, and pain during sex. Available options for the affected woman in managing this condition include pelvic exercises, lifestyle changes, medical devices, and even surgery. Vaginal mesh surgery which is among the options have become the subject of complaints in recent years due to alleged complications resulting from the used of these devices and has in fact led to numerous vaginal mesh lawsuits.
References:
emedicine.medscape.com/article/258334-overview#a0199
uptodate.com/contents/chronic-pelvic-pain-in-women-beyond-the-basics
patient.co.uk/health/pelvic-pain-in-women

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