By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Delaware judge on Friday said Boston Scientific should only have to pay $10 million to a woman originally awarded $100 million by a jury who found she was injured by transvaginal mesh, a device that is the subject of thousands of lawsuits.
Judge Mary Johnston in New Castle County, Delaware, said that the damages awarded to plaintiff Deborah Barba in May – the largest ever in a trial involving transvaginal mesh - were “grossly disproportionate to the injuries suffered and shock the court’s conscience and sense of justice.”
But Johnston denied Boston Scientific's bid to set aside the verdict altogether and order a new trial. While the jury had properly decided the company's liability, Johnston wrote in her ruling that the jury’s award was too high, particularly in comparison with the other mesh trials, in which punitive damages awards spanned from $1.75 million to $7.76 million.
Boston Scientific spokesman Tom Keppeler said the company intends to appeal the verdict because it believes there were factual and legal errors.
A lawyer for Barba, Fred Thompson of Motley Rice, said he was not surprised the judge would scrutinize the size of the damages. While disappointed with the reduction, Thompson said he was pleased that Johnston upheld the jury’s finding on Boston Scientific’s liability and considered the decision a hurdle in what was expected to be a lengthy post-trial process.
According to her 2011 lawsuit, Barba was implanted with Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle and Advantage Fit mesh devices in 2009 to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. The devices caused serious complications, including recurring bladder infections and pelvic and abdominal pain, requiring her to undergo two additional surgeries to try to address the problems, she said.
Following a 14-day trial in May, jurors in Delaware state court found Boston Scientific had been negligent in designing and making the devices and that it had failed to warn doctors and patients about the potential risks. They awarded her $25 million in compensatory damages, and an additional $75 million in punitive damages.
Boston Scientific is among seven device manufacturers that have collectively faced an estimated 100,000 lawsuits in state and federal court over transvaginal mesh. Other major defendants include Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit and C.R. Bard.
(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Phil Berlowitz)