C.R. Bard Must Pay Punitive $35 Million in Vaginal-Mesh Case

(Bloomberg) -- C.R. Bard Inc. was ordered to pay $35 million in punitive damages to a woman who blamed her injuries on the company’s vaginal mesh inserts in the medical supplier’s first case over the controversial devices to go to trial in New Jersey.

The punishment award handed down Friday brings to $68 million the amount that Bard must pay to Mary McGinnis and her husband. McGinnis said Bard inserts designed to bolster organs and address incontinence issues were defective and left her in permanent pain.

The verdict comes as Murray Hill, New Jersey-based Bard is pushing to resolve a raft of suits over its mesh inserts, which have been criticized by women for damaging organs and robbing them of normal sex lives. Bard has settled more than 13,000 cases since 2014, according to its regulatory filings.

As of September 2017, the company still faced more than 3,000 suits over allegedly defective inserts that were the target of litigation. Those cases are consolidated before a federal judge in West Virginia. The company also faces about 150 suits in state courts in New Jersey.

A spokesman for Bard said the company is disappointed with the outcome and plans to appeal.

“Any implantable medical device carries inherent risks as well as clinical benefits,” Troy Kirkpatrick, the spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “While we understand that Mrs. McGinnis was dissatisfied with the outcome of her procedure, it is important to note that thousands of women over many years have benefited from these products and have improved lives because of them.”

Adam Slater, McGinnis’s lawyer, said in a telephone interview that the jury “sent a message that people in New Jersey won’t give companies a pass on unethical conduct.”

McGinnis alleged Bard’s Avaulta and Align implants shrank after being implanted, causing nerve damage and leaving her unable to have intercourse, according to court filings. McGinnis suffered through four surgeries in hopes of having all the mesh removed from her body, Slater said.

Bard took the Avaulta implants off the market in 2012 and did the same with the Align inserts in 2016. Those moves came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2010 ordered Bard and other mesh-insert makers, including Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific Corp., to study injury rates tied to the devices. J&J also pulled four lines of mesh insert from the market.

Bard has been accused in some women’s suits of using a form of mesh in the devices that the mesh’s manufacturer had warned wasn’t suitable for human implantation. Bard officials countered that the mesh was a safe substance from which to make the inserts.

Last year, medical-devices company Becton, Dickinson & Co. acquired Bard for $24 billion to combine two of the world’s biggest health-care suppliers. Kristen Cardillo, a Becton spokeswoman, didn’t return a call for comment.

The case is Mary McGinnis v. C.R. Bard, Inc., Docket No.: BER-L-17717-14, New Jersey Superior Court (Hackensack).

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