Class action against Johnson & Johnson and others over pelvis mesh implants which allegedly cause injuries to women

FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

FILE PHOTO: The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York

Published Oct 25, 2022


The Johnson & Johnson group, Ethicon, Coloplast, and Nuangle are among the respondents in a class action lawsuit in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, over allegedly defective pelvic mesh devices which is believed to cause injuries to women.

The case is being brought by legal firm RH Lawyers and attorney Richard Spoor

The pelvic mesh devices are surgically implanted into vaginal or the pelvic region for the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

According to a statement by RH Lawyers and Spoor, the class action seeks compensation for South African women who had defective pelvic mesh devices inserted and were injured as a result.

"The pelvic mesh devices that are surgically implanted to treat the above mentioned conditions, are made in whole or in part from polypropylene and are intended to be implanted permanently. The mesh is porous and is designed in a way so that the patient's tissue grows through the pores and effectively fuses the mesh to the patient's body," the statement said.

The applicants alleged that polypropylene was not a suitable material for implants of this nature, since several scientific studies had shown that polypropylene degrades when implanted into the human body.

"This could result in degradation, the pelvic mesh device hardening, and becoming deformed. This can result in various complications such as cutting into the tissue, chronic inflammatory responses, excessive scar tissue build-up, and mesh perforating tissue or eroding through the pelvic wall," the statement read.

"The applicants further allege that the respondents knew or ought reasonably to have known of the defects associated with the pelvic mesh device and to have taken appropriate steps to prevent the class members from suffering harm.

"Should the application for certification be granted by the court, the applicants will proceed to trial for determination on two aspects. Firstly, to determine the liability of the respondents; and secondly, to assess the quantum of damages payable to each class member."

Meanwhile, In Australia, Johnson & Johnson reached a $300m settlement in two class actions, after thousands of women worldwide reported complications from the mesh products including chronic pain, painful sexual intercourse and incontinence.

The settlement marked the largest resolution in a product liability class action in Australian history, and is subject to federal court approval.

This is a developing story.