Johnson & Johnson must face an Illinois woman’s lawsuit claiming she received a faulty pelvic mesh device that caused her continuing pain and medical issues,, finding that there are still questions as to when the statute of limitations started running.
The panel reversed an Illinois federal judge’s summary judgment ruling in favor of Johnson & Johnson Inc. and its subsidiary, Ethicon Inc., finding that there are issues of fact regarding whether the suit came too late because Patricia A. Stark “should have realized much earlier” than 2018 that the pelvic mesh product she received in 2008 was defective.
The two-year statute of limitations only began ticking when Stark should have realized that her mesh-related complications might have been wrongfully caused by another person.. Stark had been told by two different doctors that her complications could have been caused by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which affects connective tissues.
It wasn’t until March 2018 when Stark spoke to a friend, who is a lawyer, about her two surgeries and mesh-related complications that she consulted with someone who specialized in pelvic mesh litigation. Stark said it wasn’t until that conversation that she had any reason to investigate whether a mesh-related defect was the source of her complications.
Stark filed her lawsuit in September 2018, alleging Ethicon’s mesh device was defective and caused her injuries, including continued incontinence, urinary urgency and frequency, erosion damage, bladder spasms, back pain, severe emotional injury and loss of enjoyment of life.
The district court determined that, at the latest, Stark should have known in November 2015 when Valaitis tried to remove the eroded mesh device from her urethra that her mesh-related injuries might have been wrongfully caused. The district court said it didn’t matter that Stark had been told the cause of her injuries could have been from EDS, her claims still accrued.
However, the 7th circ. panel revived the case, finding that the lower court’s view of the evidence is “one reasonable view but not the only reasonable view.” The panel said there is a genuine issue of fact concerning when Stark reasonably should have known that her mesh-related injuries might have been wrongfully caused.