Appeals Court Upholds Prolift Mesh Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson
The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 2018 jury verdict in Kaiser v. Ethicon, in which a United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana jury awarded Plaintiff Barbara Kaiser $10 million in compensation for her injuries, and $25 million in punitive damages as punishment to Johnson & Johnson for its willful and wanton disregard for patient safety. Punitive damages were ultimately reduced to $10 million by the trial judge.
In the decision, issued on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the trial court’s original ruling on Ethicon’s design defect liability and failure to warn about the device. The three-judge panel also rejected Ethicon’s appeal for a new trial regarding jury instructions and evidentiary issues. The Seventh Circuit panel included Judge Diane Sykes, Judge Joel Flaum, and Judge Michael Kanne.
In the ruling penned by Judge Diane S. Sykes, the Seventh Circuit issued a full rejection of Ethicon’s arguments, stating:
“Ethicon’s appeal is a broad-spectrum attack on the judgment, starting with an argument about federal preemption and moving through several issues of Indiana product liability law, a claimed evidentiary error, and challenges to the compensatory and punitive damages. We reject these arguments and affirm.”
The court also deferred to the Indiana Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in TRW Vehicle Safety Sys., Inc. v. Moore on the issue of whether the Indiana Product Liability Act requires a plaintiff in a design defect case to produce evidence of a reasonable alternative design for the product.
“We’re very pleased by the court’s ruling, and very happy for the Kaiser family,” said Wexler Wallace Partner Edward A. Wallace. “The jury spoke with its verdict, and this ruling validates their work.”
“We are happy the 7th Circuit did not disturb the jury’s findings that the Prolift is dangerous and that the warnings were inadequate,” said Wagstaff & Cartmell Partner Jeffrey M. Kuntz. “Mr. and Mrs. Kaiser put their personal life on trial in order to stand up against one of the largest Pharmaceutical Companies in the World. It was an honor to represent them.”
“This is a great result for the Barb Kaiser and a good deterrent to medical device companies putting profits before people,” said Thomas O. Plouff a trial lawyer “Of Counsel” to Costello, McMahon, Gilbreth & Murphy, Ltd.
Plaintiffs in this case are represented by Thomas O. Plouff, Costello, McMahon, Gilbreth & Murphy, Ltd., Jeffrey M. Kuntz of Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP, and Edward A. Wallace of Wexler Wallace LLP. Mark Miller of Wexler Wallace LLP led the appellate team and argued issues before the Seventh Circuit panel, and was joined on the appellee brief by Tim Jackson of Wexler Wallace LLP and Adam Davis of Wagstaff & Cartmell LLP. The trial team also included Andy Faes of Wagstaff and Cartmell LLP and others. For more information please contact Ed Wallace at 312-485-0009 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Jeff Kuntz at 816-522-5752 (email@example.com), or Tom Plouff at TPlouff@costellaw.com