A federal jury in Columbus returned a multi-million dollar verdict last week against a California company that manufactured, marketed and sold a vaginal sling device that it later pulled off the market.
After deliberating for less than three hours on Thursday, the six-woman, six-man jury awarded Teresa Taylor of Marianna, Fla., $4.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages, according to federal court records. Taylor filed suit in 2012 against Mentor Worldwide LLC., which sold the mesh devices that were designed to treat stress urinary incontinence.
The case was tried in the Middle District of Georgia in front of Judge Clay Land, who was appointed by a federal judicial panel to hear the more than 300 cases from across the country against Mentor. This is the second such case that has been tried in Land’s court. Mentor won the first case.
Taylor, and her attorney, Edward Blizzard of the Houston firm of Blizzard & Nabers, alleged that Mentor continued to market the device after they knew that it caused health issues. The devices were sold between 2003-2006.
The jury, which was comprised of residents of the Middle District, awarded Taylor $400,000 in compensatory damages and then hit Mentor with a $4 million punitive verdict.
The jury found that Mentor Worldwide was “motivated solely by unreasonable financial gain” and that conduct resulted in a high likelihood of injury.
“This is the first such jury verdict and we think it is a big deal for Mrs. Taylor and the other plaintiffs,” Blizzard said. “It is a big verdict in that it is the first against Mentor.”
A former Mentor employee from France testified that the company knew of the issues with the device, Blizzard said.
Blizzard said the jury telegraphed the verdict midway through deliberations when they sent a note to Land.
“They asked if they could have a calculator,” Blizzard said. “We thought that was an unusually good sign.”
Mentor discontinued the product in 2006. Three years later the company was sold to Johnson & Johnson.