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Johnson and Johnson’s Appeal Against Landmark Vaginal Mesh Class Action, Begins Today

31 January 2021

Class Actions

Thousands of women who have waited more than eight years for justice after being implanted with defective pelvic mesh implants are hoping their historic victory survives a legal challenge beginning today. 

The Federal Court in Sydney will this morning commence hearing an appeal filed by the manufacturers and distributor of the devices, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc. and Ethicon Sarl, which is seeking to overturn a landmark decision, in favour of the women, which was delivered by Justice Anna Katzmann in November 2019. 

“We understand how our clients are feeling today, as the appeal begins.” 

“This appeal before the Full Court of the Federal Court is the next legal step in this case, that was commenced in 2012. Appealing is the right of any unsuccessful party to litigation and involves a reconsideration of the findings and judgement of the initial trial judge,” said Shine Lawyers’ Class Actions Practice Leader, Rebecca Jancauskas. 

The women impacted by these faulty pelvic floor repair systems had mesh surgically implanted to fix pelvic floor damage that causes urinary incontinence and prolapse, amongst other things. 

In November 2019, Katzmann J, delivered a 1500 page judgment, finding the product to be neither fit for purpose or of merchantable quality. The Federal Court Judge also found that Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon Sàrl and Ethicon, Inc. were negligent. 

The complications caused by these implants include the mesh or tape eroding through surrounding tissues and organs, incontinence and chronic pain. 


Client Carolyn Van Der Jagt knew something was wrong when she felt unbearable pain the moment, she woke from her prolapse surgery on 27 February 2006. She joined the class action in 2013 after seven years of excruciating pain. She has had three corrective surgeries, but said, “nothing will ever give me the health I once had.” 

“My initial implant in 2006 was 4 months after I got married to my husband. It has made intercourse with my husband impossible. It has left me with significant anxiety and has had a significant impact on my emotional health.” 

In November of 2019, when Shine Lawyers successfully sued the manufacturers and distributor of the devices, Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc. and Ethicon Sarl in the The Federal Court in Sydney, Ms Van Der Jagt finally saw a glimmer of hope after her then, thirteen-year ordeal. 

“It’s incomprehensible for Johnson and Johnson to continue to debate the damage this product has caused us women,” she said. 

“Just when we thought it was over, we are now being made to wait yet again, for the compensation we need to pay for our ongoing medical expenses. Our lives have been ruined. When will enough be enough,” she said. 

“That Johnson and Johnson would prefer to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal disputes instead of giving it to the women they’ve wronged, is inhumane.” 


  • The class action, which is the largest women’s health action in Australian history, was filed by Shine Lawyers on behalf of thousands of Australian women who have been left with life altering complications after receiving Johnson & Johnson vaginal mesh or tape implants.   

  • The trial began on 4 July 2017 and concluded in February 2018.   

  • Shine Lawyers’ claim alleged that: the implants were defective and not fit for purpose; the information and warnings that accompanied the implants did not adequately disclose the nature and severity of the risks; and the implants caused significant and sometimes severe and life-altering complications including erosion and chronic pain.   

  • On the 21st of November 2019, the Federal Court handed down its judgment on the class action filed by Shine Lawyers against Johnson and Johnson Medical, Ethicon and Ethicon Sàrl (the Respondents), in favour of the thousands of women affected by faulty vaginal mesh or tape implants.   

  • In April 2020, the Respondents appealed the judgment of Justice Katzmann. The appeal will be heard by the Full Court of the Federal Court and is listed to run for seven days.   

  • For more information, please click here.

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