Did J&J Purposely Destroy Documents for Vaginal Mesh Cases?

Did J&J Purposely Destroy Documents for Vaginal Mesh Cases?

Ethicon employees have been accused of intentionally destroying important documents associated with vaginal mesh litigation in a motion recently filed by the plaintiffs.

Ethicon employees have been accused of intentionally destroying important documents associated with vaginal mesh litigation in a motion recently filed by the plaintiffs.

A motion filed on December 2 in a bellwether vaginal mesh lawsuit is accusing officials at Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, of purposefully destroying thousands of crucial documents associated with the litigation. According to the 26-page motion, lawyers for the plaintiffs are accusing Ethicon employees of failing to properly preserve documents that had been stored on the hard drive of the computer used by the former president of Ethicon, Renee Selman.

The intentional destruction of these documents, according to the motion, has led to gaps in the plaintiffs’ case; as a result, attorneys for the plaintiffs are arguing that:

  • The defendants, which include Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson, should not be able to use certain arguments in their defense during the upcoming trial (which is scheduled to start in February 2014).
  • The defendants should lose their rights to be able to request that certain vaginal mesh lawsuits are thrown out of court based on logistical arguments (such as arguments that the lawsuits were not filed within the appropriate legal deadlines).

Ethicon’s Response

A spokesman for Ethicon – Matthew Johnson – has fired off a response to the allegations in this motion. While he has pointed out that Ethicon, as well as Johnson & Johnson, have specific protocols in place for preserving litigation documents, he has also alleged that the documents in this case were inadvertently destroyed and that the defendants have been more than compliant in providing millions of pages of documents related to vaginal mesh implants to the plaintiffs.

The decision ultimately handed down in regards to this motion will likely have a significant effect on both the upcoming Ethicon vaginal mesh bellwether lawsuit and the other 11,300 or so cases currently pending against this vaginal mesh manufacturer.

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