CHARLESTON – A jury in Charleston federal court on Aug. 15 awarded a Georgia woman and her husband $1.75 million in punitive damages after the first federal trial over C.R. Bard Inc.’s vaginal mesh implants.
Donna Cisson’s lawsuit, filed in 2011, said she received an Avaulta Plus Posterior BioSynthetic Support System during surgery to treat her pelvic organ prolapse. Cisson alleged the implant caused pain, bleeding and bladder spasms, according to a Bloomberg report.
Lawsuits against Bard and others who manufactured similar products are consolidated in a multi-district litigation proceeding in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.
Cisson’s complaint was filed by Henry G. Garrard III of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley in Athens, Ga.
Rochelle Rottenstein, principal of Rottenstein Law Group in New York City, said the verdict was smaller than a similar California state court case last year but important in that the jury ruled Bard was responsible for Cisson’s injuries.
“While some might view Mrs. Cisson’s award as small – at least as compared to the award of $5.5 million awarded in California state court to a prior plaintiff in an Avaulta mesh case – we must remember that compensatory damages are informed by actual harms caused – not sympathy, and not a desire to punish the liable party – and are decided by jurors who have heard all the testimony and seen all the exhibits first-hand,” said Rottenstein, whose firm represents thousands of vaginal mesh plaintiffs.
Cisson was awarded $250,000 in compensatory damages. Judge Joseph Goodwin presided over the trial, which began July 29 after a first trial resulted in a mistrial.
Also representing the Cissons were Van Laningham Duncan, a Greensboro, N.C., firm, and the Huntington firm Greene Ketchum Bailey Walker Farrell & Tweel.
The jury’s verdict form said Cisson proved her design defect claim and her failure to warn claim. Her husband did not prove his loss of consortium claim, however.
The plaintiffs proved Bard acted with willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness or oppression, the verdict form said in regard to the claim for punitive damages.
The Bloomberg report says 75 percent of the $1.75 punitive damages award will be given to Georgia’s general fund, pursuant to Georgia law.
“We disagree with the verdict reached by the jury and believe there are compelling grounds for reversal. We will appeal,” Bard spokesman Scott Lowry told Bloomberg.
“Our Avaulta mesh products are safe and effective medical devices, cleared by the FDA.”
From the West Virginia Record: Reach John O’Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org.