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Boston Scientific must pay $100 million over mesh inserts

The main lobby at Boston Scientific's Global Headquarters in Marlborough.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File 2014/Globe Freelance

Boston Scientific Corp. must pay $100 million to a Delaware woman who blamed the company’s vaginal-mesh inserts for leaving her in constant pain and unable to have sex, in the first verdict after the company agreed to begin settling cases over the devices.

A state-court jury in Delaware found Thursday that Boston Scientific’s Pinnacle and Advantage Fit inserts, built to buttress sagging organs and treat incontinence in women, were defectively designed and company executives hid the flaws from Deborah Barba.

The 52-year-old former bank teller contends the inserts eroded once they were implanted, leaving her with a scarred vagina and a host of medical problems. The verdict is the largest so far against Boston Scientific over its vaginal-mesh inserts. It eclipsed a $73 million award last year to a Texas woman who blamed the company’s Obtryx sling for her injuries.


The jury also found Boston Scientific engaged in fraud by failing to alert doctors to the devices’ faulty design. It awarded $75 million in compensatory damages and hit the company with a $25 million punitive-damages award.

The vaginal-mesh verdict is the first since Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Boston Scientific agreed last month to pay $119 million to resolve about 3,000 lawsuits over the devices in the first settlements of claims the inserts damaged women’s organs and made sexual intercourse painful.

Kelly Leadem, a Boston Scientific spokeswoman, didn’t immediately reply to a call and an e-mail for comment on the verdict.

“The jury spoke loudly and clearly that Boston Scientific’s defective devices injured Mrs. Barba and many other women and they should step and take responsibility for causing that harm,” Fred Thompson, one of her lawyers, said after the verdict was announced.

The US Food and Drug Administration ordered Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson and more than 30 other vaginal-implant makers in 2012 to study rates of organ damage and complications linked to the devices after the companies faced a wave of lawsuits over them.


Women such as Barba allege that inserts produced by Boston Scientific and other companies are made of substandard materials and shrink once they are implanted, causing organ damage and persistent pain. J&J moved in June 2012 to pull four lines of inserts off the market.

Many of the more than 70,000 mesh-insert cases have been consolidated before US District Judge Joseph Goodwin in Charleston, West Virginia. Others have been filed in state courts in Delaware, New Jersey, Missouri, Texas and California.

Goodwin has been pushing manufacturers to consider settling the cases before they face billions in jury awards.