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C.R. Bard Faces $2-Million Vaginal Mesh Injury Verdict

C.R. Bard is staring down a $2 million verdict following the loss of a vaginal mesh implant lawsuit. In the lawsuit, a woman who received the vaginal mesh implant alleges that the company hid safety issues from FDA regulators.

In Charleston, West Virginia, jurors deliberated over two days before finding the company liable for patient injuries caused by its Avaulta product line. In total, the company was instructed to pay $1.75 million in punitive damages and $250,000 in compensatory damages.

As of now, C.R. Bard still faces over 8,000 claims against its Avaulta vaginal mesh product line. According to Cisson and other women, the device can cause organ damage and can lead to significant discomfort during sexual activities.

However, C.R. Bard isn't alone in facing these changes. Other companies that manufacture vaginal mesh implants face charges as well. Companies like Boston Scientific, Endo Health Solutions and Johnson & Johnson also face lawsuits over vaginal-mesh-related patient injuries. Many of these lawsuits allege that vaginal mesh implants, when threaded through a vaginal incision, may shrink as time passes. This can expose a patient to a serious risk of injury.

"This jury sent a message that Bard needs to change its ways," noted a lawyer for Cisson. "The jury is telling them this kind of conduct won't be tolerated."

Officials at Bard dispute the jury's finding and plan to appeal. "We disagree with the verdict reached by the jury and believe there are compelling grounds for reversal. We will appeal," stated a spokesperson for CR Bard. "Our Avaulta mesh products are safe and effective medical devices, cleared by the FDA."

Last year, C.R. Bard pulled the Avaulta implant product line off the market after FDA regulators ordered all vaginal mesh manufacturers to research sexual pain, infection and organ damage that was linked to the device.

In 2012, the company was found liable for patient injuries caused by an Avaulta implant. In that earlier case, jurors awarded the patient $5.5 million in total damages. However, the company is only liable for $3.6 million of this amount under California state law.

"That the first federal bellwether trial went the plaintiff's way is a very good sign and potential indicator of things to come," says Rochelle Rottenstein, the founder of a New York City-based law firm Rottenstein Law Group LLP. "This verdict and award--which includes a substantial punitive damages assessment--should send an important message to both Bard and its victims: Selling a product that injures people will not go unnoticed and unpunished. Anyone who has been hurt by a mesh product but who hasn't yet consulted a lawyer about demanding compensation should do so now."

For Cisson, money won't be able to solve all her health issues. In 2009, the public-health nurse received an Avaulta Plus implant to stop the collapse of organs into her pelvic region. Following bladder spasms, bleeding and severe pain, she had several surgeries to remove the mesh. According to Cisson's lawyers, the company put its earnings before product safety by ignoring known defects with the Avaulta implant line.

In particular, plaintiffs allege that the company knew the devices were made of a plastic that wasn't designed for long-term implantation in humans.

For its part, C.R. Bard continues to state that it complied with all industry standards when it produced its vaginal mesh implants. However, jurors disagreed. In particular, jurors found that the company failed to warn doctors and women about flaws with the vaginal mesh. In addition, jurors found that the company's handling of the devices constituted malice, fraud or wantonness, according to the verdict.

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