It was dubbed the ‘miracle mesh’ – a medical game changer for women suffering from pelvic floor issues such as prolapse or urinary incontinence. This mesh brought together more than 11,000 Australian women, from all walks of life that all had one thing in common – they’d been living in excruciating pain for decades. With our legal support, these courageous women banded together to take on the manufacturing giant, Johnson & Johnson, and formed the largest product liability class action seen in Australia at the time. Our Class Action team immersed themselves in the story of every woman who came forward, each experience just as harrowing as the next.
Johnson & Johnson (Image source should be: ABC News: Brendan Esposito)
Many women experienced severe infections and complications; from the mesh cutting through their internal tissue, poking through their vaginal wall, and causing scarring and fistula formation. Hundreds of women felt they had been used as medical experiments and were now living with chronic and debilitating pain. Living with aftereffects of the mesh also ruined sex lives, tore family units apart and destroyed livelihoods.
“I would wake up screaming and crying, something was catching in my groin, and I couldn’t move”
Amanda Liddell, Shine Client
Shine launched the class action on behalf of the women affected, against three of Johnson & Johnson’s companies, alleging they failed to properly test the devices and played down the risks to both surgeons and patients. With the first-class action against Johnson & Johnson filed in the Federal Court on 15 October 2012, it was a legal battle that spanned nearly a decade. After a lengthy batter, the case finally went to trial in 2019 and a judgment in favour of the women affected was handed down 7 months later. Johnson & Johnson refused to accept defeat, filing an appeal to the Federal Court in March 2021 and again with special leave to appeal in November 2021. A second class action was filed against Johnson & Johnson and Ethicon in April 2021 for women who had received their mesh implants on or after 4 July 2017 and were unable to join the first class action. A settlement of $300 million was reached; justice for the women who were wronged finally prevailed. The Johnson & Johnson Medical Class Action was a landmark case for Shine and for the Australian legal landscape. It brought thousands of medical negligence cases to light and inspired women to come forward who had suffered for years with nobody listening or taking them seriously. It provided a platform for women to be heard, show their strength and unite to demand the justice they deserve.
“I never once felt that the team at Shine were doing this for themselves, they were doing this for the 11,000 women who had suffered. It was not just about the money, it was about being heard, about being seen and getting out of that corner to fight for our rights and for our bodies.”
Since the Johnson & Johnson case, many other mesh manufacturers have become the subject of class actions in Australia; In July 2022, Shine reached a settlement
worth $105 million against Boston Scientific.
Acting on behalf of the women who suffered because of the Johnson & Johnson mesh taught our team that no fight is too big, and no giant is too tall. We won’t back down to right wrong.