A lawyer for the state of California asked a San Diego judge Monday to impose more than $700 million in civil penalties against Johnson & Johnson over its transvaginal mesh devices. The bench trial is the first between a state attorney general and a manufacturer of transvaginal mesh devices, implanted in women to treat pelvic organ prolapse and urinary problems. The 2016 case alleges that Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Inc. misrepresented the safety of its mesh devices to doctors and their patients.
She based her damages request on $5,000 per violation in statutory damages under both California’s unfair competition law and false advertising law. A state’s expert would testify that Johnson & Johnson circulated its deceptive messages 196,204 times, she said. She also said that $704 million would be reasonable based on Johnson & Johnson’s conduct over so many years, and its assets of $70.4 billion.