Johnson & Johnson mesh implant class action appeal dismissed

Johnson & Johnson mesh implant class action appeal dismissed

The Federal Court has delivered a win to thousands of women today after dismissing an appeal brought by two medical implant giants against Shine Justice's (ASX: SHJ) successful class action on faulty pelvic mesh.

Justices Jayne Jagot, Bernard Murphy and Michael Lee, who heard the appeal in New South Wales, expedited their judgment and today delivered findings in favour of 10,000 women whose lives were altered by defective prolapse mesh and incontinence tape implants sold by Johnson & Johnson.

Shine's claims were upheld by the Federal Court in November 2019, with Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon found liable in negligence and for breaches of the Trade Practices Act and the Competition and Consumer Act.

The decision to dismiss the appeal paves the way for all group members represented by Shine to secure damages in the coming months.

"While appealing is the right of any unsuccessful party to litigation, we welcome the Full Court's decision to dismiss this challenge," Shine head of class actions Jan Saddler said.

"The decision will deliver justice for thousands of women who have been left with life altering complications.

"No amount of money can fully compensate them, but this outcome provides long-awaited accountability and vindication for their claims."

The implants in question were designed to fix pelvic floor damage, but caused women to experience symptoms such as stress, urinary incontinence, and prolapse.

At the beginning of the trial in July 2017 Shine Lawyers special counsel Rebecca Jancauskas said that these implants had significant and painful complications for the women that received them surgically.

"The complications that Australian women are suffering include the mesh or tape eroding through, and into, surrounding tissue and organs, as well as incontinence, infection and chronic pain," said Jancauskas.

"Australian women have had their lives changed forever by these products. Many now live in excruciating pain, suffering terrible side effects that impact all aspects of their lives."

"None of these products have been recalled and some remain on the market today. This class action is about righting the wrong against these women, who will suffer pain and complications for the rest of their lives."

In November 2019, Federal Court Judge Anna Katzmann found the pelvic mesh implants sold by Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon were "not fit for purpose" and of "unmerchantable quality".

Justice Katzmann ruled on 3 March 2020 that the three lead applicants Kathryn Gill, Diane Dawson and Ann Sanders who represented the group were to be awarded damages of $1,276,113.00, $555,555.000 and $757,372.00 respectively.

The remaining members of the class action can now bring individual claims for compensation which will be assessed by the Federal Court.

Ethicon says it is considering the reasons for the Court's decision and will asses its options.

"Ethicon empathises with all women who experience medical complications," says Ethicon. 

"Ethicon believes it acted ethically and responsibly in the research, development and supply of its pelvic mesh products and stress urinary incontinence tape products and appropriately and responsibly communicated the benefits and risks to doctors and patients in Australia.

"Ethicon is reviewing the Full Court decision announced today and will consider its options."

Class action member Peta Bennett said today's Federal Court decision is a win for herself and others like her, who have waited patiently for a decision to be handed down.

Bennett had a transvaginal tape implant procedure in 2004, and has since experienced erosion of her implant, psychiatric injury, recurrent prolapse and incontinence, damage to her pelvic organs, nerves, tissue and a heart attack, brought on by the physical and mental stress of her condition.

"The TVT failure has impacted my life terribly. I have bowel incontinence, severe pain in my groin and left leg, which affects my walking ability and also other physical actions," Bennet said.

"My marriage has dissolved, I am unable to live my life as I used to playing hockey or softball, jogging or just generally trying to keep fit. I eventually put on weight and doctors recommended weight loss surgery.

"I wish I had never had the TVT put in back in 2004. It's destroyed my life. This win won't repair the damage, but it will contribute to medical expenses that have piled up over the years as I try to manage my pain."

Shares in Shine are up 3.89 per cent to $0.94 per share at 11.34am AEDT.

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