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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Plaintiff's prior medical history discussed in New Jersey pelvic mesh trial

By John Sammon | Mar 30, 2018

HACKENSACK, N.J. (Legal Newsline) – Attorneys representing a medical device company alleged to have manufactured a pelvic mesh implant a woman claims caused her injury sought to portray the source of the woman’s pain not a result of the implant, but unrelated arthritic conditions in trial March 28.

Mary McGinnis of North Carolina, a child care worker by profession, filed suit against C.R. Bard Co. of New Jersey for its implant device called Avaulta, which was used on her in an operation in March 2009. Over a period of almost 10 years, McGinnis had to undergo operations for the severe pain she alleged in the suit and removal of the mesh in what was described as an extremely difficult medical procedure, as well as vaginal reconstruction.

The allegations, in addition to pain, injury and medical bills, include the accusation company officials desired to sell the product to patients and doctors regardless of warning signs and without proper background clinical study of the product beforehand.

Streaming video coverage of the trial at the New Jersey Superior Court in Bergen County was provided to Legal Newsline by Courtroom View Network.           

During trial on March 28, Adam Slater of Mazie, Slater, Katz & Freeman in Roseland, New Jersey, McGinnis’ attorney, questioned Dr. Samuel Snyder, a noted orthopedic surgeon, about the possible sources of the woman’s pain.

Looking at scanned film of McGinnis’ spinal cord and pelvis taken between the years 2007 and 2017, Snyder observed the bones appeared “well-maintained” and disc spaces in the spine “well-preserved.”

This ran counter to the defendant’s contention that part of the woman’s pain came from spinal and hip degeneration unrelated to the pelvic implant.

“She (McGinnis) has moderate spinal stenosis (spinal narrowing aggravating nerves), but at this level it wouldn’t cause the pain she described in her records,” Snyder said. 

McGinnis complained of pain in the vaginal area, the buttocks and the pudendal nerve, the main nerve in the perineum.

Under cross-examination by Lori Cohen Greenberg Traurig LLP, the attorney for C.R. Bard, Snyder agreed he did not do spinal surgery nor authoritatively published articles about osteoarthritis or hip injuries.

“You don’t claim to have expertise on chronic pelvic pain, correct?” Cohen asked.

“Correct,” Snyder answered.

“You don’t have expertise in dyspareunia (painful intercourse)?” Cohen asked.

“Correct,” Snyder responded.

Cohen asked if McGinnis had years of varying degrees of hip pain prior to the mesh implant procedure and that from 2000 to 2009 had been seen by doctors for back, hip and leg pain 176 times.     

“I don’t disagree,” Snyder said.

An exhibited film scan taken in 2017 showed McGinnis had a narrowing of her hip joint and osteophyte, a bony outgrowth associated with a degenerative cartilage condition. However Snyder described the progression of the condition from 2007 to 2017 as “minimal.”

“You have no experience with mesh implants, is that correct?” Cohen asked.

“Correct,” Snyder answered.

Under questioning by Slater, when asked if conditions such as stenosis and osteoarthritis would cause burning vaginal pain of the kind McGinnis reported, Snyder answered no. He agreed that other examining doctors, including a chiropractor, had not recognized McGinnis’ problems as being orthopedic in nature.

“Is it (stenosis, osteoarthritis) a cause of her inability to sit comfortably?” Slater asked.

“No,” Snyder said.

McGinnis’ chiropractor, Dr. Stacey Gray, told the jury she began taking notes soon after McGinnis had the implant operation and noted symptoms over repeated visits that alarmed her.

“That’s why I was insisting she needed the mesh removed,” Gray said. “Previously there were no symptoms of (vagina) burning; she did not have the symptoms prior to the mesh. It was clear the mesh created these problems for her.”

Gray told defense attorneys she was a friend of McGinnis, who had taken care of her son in day care as an infant, and hoped to see her achieve a favorable judgement in the case.

“Especially after everything that has happened to her,” Gray said.

McGinnis’ husband, Tom, testified about the changes in personality his wife had undergone after the implant and how her physical ability to perform her job providing day care for small children had become limited.

“There’s been a change in her sense of humor, we used to joke, but we can’t do that now,” he said. “Her ability in day care has changed 100 percent. She used to lift and play with the babies, now I do all the lifting and cleaning and shopping. Sexual intercourse is gone.”

Asked if his wife was comfortable, Mr. McGinnis responded, “she puts on a good show, but no she is not comfortable.”

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Superior Court of New Jersey - Bergen County