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Mesh Lawsuit Update: J&J "Destroyed Documents"

  • Dec 9, 2013
  • Staff
  • Defective Medical Devices

Johnson & Johnson is a huge company, and it’s partly because of this that they’re in the news so much. The company has recently received widespread attention after it agreed to pay nearly $5 billion to resolve thousands of suits over its (allegedly) faulty hip implants and to settle claims it marketed its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal for off-label uses.

Ethicon has lost or destroyed at least tens of thousands of documents that contained information to plaintiffs’ claims.

Now J&J’s back in the news over another possible misstep.

Two plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) over the J&J’s transvaginal mesh products have filed a motion for sanctions, claiming that the company lost or deleted tens of thousands of documents after failing to properly impose a litigation hold from 2003. The hold required the company to keep all information and documents pertaining to vaginal meshes made by its Ethicon unit– something that the new motion claims did not happen.

So, what exactly are J&J being accused of?

The motion alleges that Ethicon “has lost or destroyed at least tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of documents that likely contain information relevant to plaintiffs’ claims.” Specifically,  Bloomberg reports J&J executives warned officials in its Ethicon unit to hold onto documents concerning the development and approval process of its vaginal mesh devices; however, the company now admits that not all employees followed these instructions. The lost documents include any stored on the hard drive of former Ethicon president Renee Selman, the filing says.

The allegation is simple: in destroying these documents, J&J has damaged plaintiffs’ cases by removing potential evidence. The plaintiffs, along with more than 30,000 others, allege that J&J’s defectively designed vaginal mesh devices have caused serious injuries, some of which required surgery to remove the implant. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say it’s unfair for their clients’ cases to be weakened by the defendant’s actions.

They are now asking that J&J be barred from being able to throw out suits filed beyond legal deadlines as punishment for losing the documents.

The company, of course, denies it’s responsible for the actions of uninformed employees.

Be sure to check back for updates on this development. As soon as Judge Joseph Goodwin has made a decision, we’ll report the news here.

Are you taking part in one of the lawsuits against Ethicon or another mesh manufacturer? Let us know in the comments below.

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