Man unsure of the safety of his medicine

Breaking news and expert analysis on legal and compliance issues

[Back To Home][Back To Archives]

From Products Liability Law Daily, December 16, 2015

Botched hemorrhoid surgery nets $80M pain in J&J’s pocketbook

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

A California jury hit Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon division with a $70 million award of punitive damages in the case of a patient who was seriously injured when an allegedly defective stapler used during a hemorrhoidopexy surgery closed in her anal canal. Just four days earlier, on December 10, 2015, the jury had awarded the patient and her husband $10 million in compensatory damages (Kulhman v. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, LLC, December 14, 2015, Bolden, V.).

Underlying complaint. In her complaint, the patient alleged Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon Endo-Surgery, the manufacturers of the stapler used during her surgery, knew that the device was dangerous and unsafe for use in performing hemorrhoid surgery. The complaint alleged that the dangers included misfiring, incomplete firing strokes, and incomplete staple formation which resulted in sphincter dysfunction, rectal wall damage, sepsis, bleeding, and occlusion of the rectal canal. The patient also alleged that these companies failed to take appropriate action to cure these defects and to warn physicians of the device’s dangerous characteristics. The patient also alleged that the manufacturers concealed material facts known to them and acted in willful and conscious disregard of the rights and safety of others.

Jury verdicts. Based on findings that the stapler contained a manufacturing defect and that the manufacturers had knowledge of potential risks posed by the device but failed to provide adequate warnings or instructions regarding those potential risks, the jury awarded the patient and her husband a total of $9,823,566.60 in compensatory damages as follows: past medical expenses: $212,622.99; future medical expenses: $310.943.61; past and future noneconomic damages: $8,000,000; and past and future loss of consortium: $1,300,000.

The case is No. RG 13675753 (Second Amended ComplaintSpecial VerdictPunitive Damages Verdict)

Attorneys: Nina Shapirshteyn (Alexander Law Group, LLP) for Florence Kuhlmann & John Perkins. Robert M. Slattery (McNamara, Ney, Beatty, Slattery, Boreges & Ambacher, LLP) for Rakhee N. Shah M.D. Genese K. Dopson (Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker LLP) for Ethicon Endo-Surgery, LLC, Ethicon, Inc., Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Home Health Care Systems, Inc.

Companies: Ethicon Endo-Surgery, LLC; Ethicon, Inc.; Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Inc.; Johnson & Johnson; Johnson & Johnson Home Health Care Systems, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory JuryVerdictsNewsStory DesignManufacturingNews DamagesNews MedicalDevicesNews CaliforniaNews

Back to Top

Products Liability Law Daily

Introducing Wolters Kluwer Products Liability Law Daily — a daily reporting service created by attorneys, for attorneys — providing same-day coverage of breaking news, court decisions, legislation, and regulatory activity.

A complete daily report of the news that affects your world

  • View full summaries of federal and state court decisions.
  • Access full text of legislative and regulatory developments.
  • Customize your daily email by topic and/or jurisdiction.
  • Search archives for stories of interest.

Not just news — the right news

  • Get expert analysis written by subject matter specialists—created by attorneys for attorneys.
  • Track law firms and organizations in the headlines with our new “Who’s in the News” feature.
  • Promote your firm with our new reprint policy.

24/7 access for a 24/7 world

  • Forward information with special copyright permissions, encouraging collaboration between counsel and colleagues.
  • Save time with mobile apps for your BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad, Android, or Kindle.
  • Access all links from any mobile device without being prompted for user name and password.