Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Apr 8 2020

About 45,000 women who received surgical mesh devices may be eligible for restitution

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced the process for consumers to obtain their share of a $9.9 million recovery, a result of Ferguson’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson for failing to disclose serious risks of its surgical mesh devices.

All women who received transvaginal mesh implants in Washington are eligible to receive funds from the recovery. Washingtonians are still eligible to receive money even if:Attorney General's Health Care Initiative logo

  • They already received money from another mesh lawsuit,
  • A company other than Johnson & Johnson manufactured their surgical mesh device,
  • They do not know what company manufactured their surgical mesh device, or
  • The device has not yet caused any health complications or monetary loss.

To file a claim, visit waagmeshsettlement.com to fill out a form. All claims must be submitted on or before June 11, 2020. Please do not submit any medical records or other implant documentation with a claim. It is free to file a claim.

“We are now providing millions of dollars in relief to all women who received these devices in Washington,” Ferguson said. “No amount of money will ever be enough to make women whole if they were injured by Johnson & Johnson’s surgical mesh products. But I deeply hope that it helps provide a measure of justice.”

The Attorney General’s Office estimates 45,000 Washington women had these devices implanted and may be eligible for a recovery. Because medical information is protected under law, the Attorney General’s Office does not have information on the patients who received the mesh and cannot identify all consumers who were impacted. You must file a claim to receive money from the fund.

Anyone who previously submitted their contact information to the Attorney General’s Office will receive a claims form in the mail, and must submit the form to the claims administrator by June 11, 2020. Women who do not receive the claims form by mail can submit one at waagmeshsettlement.com.

For questions about the claims process, please read these frequently asked questions or contact info@WAAGMeshSettlement.com or 1-855-460-1526 for more information.

Case background

In May 2016, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson asserting that the multi-billion dollar corporation violated Washington’s Consumer Protection Act by failing to include several serious, life-altering risks associated with its transvaginal mesh devices in materials for patients and doctors.

The surgical mesh devices are implanted through the vagina and used to treat two conditions in women — pelvic organ prolapse, when organs shift from their normal position, and stress urinary incontinence. These conditions are non-life-threatening and can be treated via multiple, surgical and non-surgical methods.

The devices, made of polypropylene, are permanently implanted into a woman’s body to hold up falling organs. Removing the mesh is extremely difficult, and in some instances, impossible.

Washington women experienced pain, suffering and life-altering complications that Johnson & Johnson knew were associated with its devices, including chronic pain, pain with sexual intercourse and numerous urinary issues. Johnson & Johnson also knew that the impact of these reactions would exponentially increase due to the difficulty of removing the mesh once implanted.

During a deposition, Johnson & Johnson’s Global Head of Medical Affairs Piet Hinoul admitted that the company knew about the serious risks “from day one,” but did not inform patients of the risks.

One woman shared that her physician “likened the mesh removal as to ‘trying to remove chewing gum from hair.’”

Ferguson asserted that Johnson & Johnson omitted known risks from the devices’ marketing materials for patients and “Instructions for Use” packets for doctors. Instructions for Use inserts provide doctors with important information about a medical device. The instructions should include any risks or adverse reactions associated with the device or its use.

The lawsuit asserted that Johnson & Johnson knowingly omitted debilitating complications associated with the mesh devices from the instructions included with every device sold from 1999 to late 2015. The lawsuit also asserted Johnson & Johnson made omissions and misrepresentations in patient marketing materials distributed in Washington.

In addition to omitting serious risks, Ferguson asserted that Johnson & Johnson downplayed some of the serious complications caused by some products.

Assistant Attorneys General Daniel Allen and Breena Roos are lead attorneys on the case, assisted by Assistant Attorneys General Katharine Barach, Heidi Anderson, Beth Howe, Patricia Bower and Jeffrey Grant.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Media contact:

Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov

Other contacts: https://www.atg.wa.gov/contact-us