By LE Desk

March 5: More than 10,000 women are due to share in hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation after Johnson & Johnson failed to overturn a landmark ruling finding it concealed the true extent of complications of damaging medical devices.

A federal court judge in 2019 found Johnson & Johnson Group firms acted negligently and concealed the true extent of complications from the pelvic implants.

Hundreds of the synthetic implants eroded, extruded or caused infection without warning – leaving women in chronic pain and with damage to surrounding organs.

But Johnson & Johnson appealed the judgment, saying it had numerous legal errors, including a reversal of the onus of proof. The full court of the federal court on Friday dismissed the appeal.

Justice Anna Katzmann in 2019 found the “Instructions for Use” handed to surgeons minimised harm and exaggerated the benefits of the devices.

Her judgment ran to 1,500 pages after an eight-month trial examining three patients’ experiences, 48 witnesses and more than 164,000 pages of written evidence.

But Johnson & Johnson said the court failed to hear from the three patients’ surgeons.

The information brochures about the pelvic implants were not the be all and end all of warnings and a finding that product brochures were deficient – leading surgeons astray – was also wrong, a lawyer for the manufacturers told the appeal court.

The class action over the implants was launched by Shine Lawyers in 2012 and has been joined by more than 10,000 Australian women.

“It has been a long journey to get to this point in a case which has been vigorously defended by Johnson & Johnson at every turn,” Shine Lawyers’ class actions practice leader Rebecca Jancauskas said before the appeal was dismissed, the Guardian reported.

“We have fought hard to ensure the voices of these incredibly brave women are heard, as they’ve struggled with the chronic pain and life-altering complications from their mesh and tape implants.”

Before the judgment, the three lead litigants were awarded a total of $2.6m in damages, paving the way for full payout in the hundreds of millions.

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