Boston Scientific ordered to pay $73 million over mesh device

Sept 9 (Reuters) - A Texas jury has ordered Boston Scientific Corp to pay $73 million to a woman who said she suffered serious injuries from a transvaginal mesh device, the first loss for the device maker in one of thousands of suits over the products.

The damage award and finding of gross negligence against the company came Monday evening following a two-week trial in a state court in Dallas, Texas, according to court filings.

Plaintiff Martha Salazar, 42, was implanted with an Obtryx sling four years ago to treat urinary leakage, her lawyer David Matthews said. She now suffers from permanent nerve damage and constant pelvic pain, he said. Her lawsuit accused the company of designing and marketing a product it knew was defective. The company denied that it was liable.

Following only a few hours of deliberations, the 12-person jury awarded Salazar approximately $23 million in compensatory damages for her actual and future suffering and $50 million in punitive damages after finding the company was grossly negligent, according to a court filing said.

A representative for Boston Scientific, Kelly Leadem, said the company was strongly disappointed with the verdict and planned to appeal.

The verdict comes in the third case to go to trial against Boston Scientific over the devices. The first two, which were tried in Massachusetts, resulted in verdicts absolving the company of liability.

Boston Scientific is facing more than 23,000 lawsuits over transvaginal mesh devices, which are used to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, according to a recent regulatory filing.

Thousands of the federal lawsuits against the company have been consolidated in West Virginia, where a first trial is scheduled to begin in October.

Boston Scientific is among seven device makers to face a wave of litigation over transvaginal mesh devices. Other defendants include C R Bard Inc and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc unit.

In April, Endo International’s American Medical Systems subsidiary became the first major manufacturer to largely settle the suits against it for $830 million.

Only a handful of other mesh suits have gone to trial so far, and Salazar’s award is the largest so far.

Last week, a jury in West Virginia awarded a woman who was implanted with an Ethicon device $3.27 million. The first federal trial over an Ethicon device ended earlier this year in a win for the company.

Juries in New Jersey and Texas previously awarded women suing Ethicon $11 million and $1.2 million, respectively. C R Bard was hit last year with a $2 million verdict in the first mesh trial in federal court.

The case is Salazar v. Lopez, District Court for Dallas County, No. DC-12-14349. (Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Cynthia Osterman)