Crime & Justice

Australian court upholds Johnson & Johnson vaginal implants verdict

Sydney, Australia, Mar 5 (efe-epa).- The Federal Court of Australia at a plenary session on Friday upheld a ruling ordering multinational giant Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon to pay a million-dollar compensation to a group of women with faulty vaginal mesh implants sold by the company.

In March 2020, Federal Court Judge Anna Katzmann had ordered the American multinational to pay AU$ 2.6 million ($2 million) in damages to Kathryn Gill, Diane Dawson and Ann Sanders, who led a class action lawsuit that has been joined by 10,000 women.

“No error has been demonstrated in the exercise of the primary judge’s discretion to order the Injunction,” read the ruling published on Friday on the court’s website.

In November 2019, the federal court held the behavior of the American multinational and its subsidiary Ethicon as “negligent” underlining that “the risks were known, not insignificant, and on the respondents’ own admission, could cause significant and serious harm if they eventuated.”

The case, which began in 2012, is the biggest class action concerning women’s health in Australia’s history.

The women have said that the pelvic implants – mesh or tape surgically placed to resolve pelvic floor damage such as that commonly caused during childbirth – have caused debilitating problems such as urinary incontinence, chronic pain, including during sex, infections and a significant psychological toll.

“I went from being a nurse who helped, to becoming the patient who nobody could help. I miss my work terribly and can no longer help other people which upsets me tremendously” said Peta Bennet, who had the implant in 2004, in a statement by Shine Lawyers, the law firm that launched the class action lawsuit.

Bennet has 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, which the registered nurse said impacted her life “terribly.”

The law firm said that the case will be closed when Johnson & Johnson “settles and the group members’ individual compensation claims have been determined.”

“Johnson & Johnson have relentlessly defended this case at every opportunity and our clients have endured a frustrating and agonising wait while we have pursued justice on their behalf over the past eight years,” it added.

In 2018, Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt issued an apology on behalf of the government to those affected by the effects of vaginal implants and promised “sweeping steps” to address the matter. EFE-EPA


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