J&J ordered to cough up $3.4M in first vaginal mesh verdict

Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits over its Prolift device.--Courtesy of Johnson & Johnson

A New Jersey jury found in favor of the plaintiff in a lawsuit over Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) vaginal mesh, concluding the drug and device giant didn't adequately warn of the product's risks and ordering the company to pay out about $3.4 million.

The verdict is the first in the more than 2,100 lawsuits J&J is facing over Gynecare Prolift, and the $3.4 million is just to cover the plaintiff's lost earnings and medical bills, Bloomberg reports; a judge is yet to decide whether she can seek punitive damages.

J&J maintains that Prolift isn't defective and that the company didn't delude doctors of its risks. And the Jersey jury didn't disagree, instead finding that J&J failed to properly warn the plaintiff's surgeon, according to Bloomberg. That difference may end up meaning little to J&J, however, as it prepares to go through this process thousands more times, potentially losing millions in awards and settlements.

The device, manufactured by J&J subsidiary Ethicon, was voluntarily discontinued in June, but not before resulting in scarring, pain, nerve damage and organ perforation in patients, according to the suits. And it's likely the whole industry is watching the results of these early J&J suits: More than 100,000 similar suits have been filed against the likes of Boston Scientific ($BSX), C.R. Bard ($BCR) and Covidien ($COV) over their vaginal meshes.

- read the Bloomberg news