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Jury adds $7.8 million in Johnson & Johnson punitive damages

A New Jersey jury on Thursday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay punitive damages of $7.76 million to a former nurse who blames its vaginal mesh implant for years of ‘‘living hell’’ following unsuccessful repair surgeries.

The award adds to $3.35 million in compensatory damages awarded by the state Superior Court jury Monday, for a total of $11.1 million.

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It was the first verdict in about 4,000 lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson, which said the decision was not supported by the evidence. It plans to appeal.

The plaintiff, Linda Gross, 47, of Watertown, S.D., testified she had 18 surgeries since having J&J’s Prolift vaginal mesh device implanted in 2006. Severe pain and other complications forced her to stop working.

The implants are an alternative to hysterectomy or other surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when an organ droops as muscles supporting it weaken.

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