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Australia’s largest women’s health class action returns to Federal Court

One of Australia’s largest women’s health class action will return to the Federal Court to fight against an appeal seeking to overturn a landmark decision delivered in 2019 for the thousands of women affected by vaginal mesh implants.

user iconNaomi Neilson 01 February 2021 Big Law
Federal Court
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The manufacturers and distributors behind Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc. and Ethicon Sarl have begun appeal proceedings in the Federal Court in hopes that they can overturn a 2019 decision that found thousands of Australian women had been left with complications from Johnson & Johnson’s vaginal and tape implants.

Shine Lawyers’ class action practice leader Rebecca Jancauskas said the firm understands how their clients are feeling about the upcoming seven-day trial that they hope will wrap up the legal action that began in 2012.


“This appeal before the Full Court of the Federal Court is the next legal step in this case. Appealing is the right of any unsuccessful party to litigation and involves a reconsideration of the findings and judgement of the initial trial judge,” she said.

Shine Lawyers alleged that the women impacted by faulty pelvic floor repair systems had mesh surgically implanted to fix pelvic floor damage that caused urinary incontinence and prolapse, among other long-term consequences.

The firm claimed that the implants were defective and not fit for purpose as the information accompanying the implants did not adequately disclose the nature and the severity of the risks. The women alleged that the implants caused significant, severe and life-threatening complications including erosion and chronic pain.

After experiencing seven years of “unbearable pain”, client Carolyn Van Der Jaat joined the class action in 2013. When the class action was successful, she and the many other women said they “finally saw a glimmer of hope”.

“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. That Johnson & 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,” she said.

In November 2019, Justice Anna Katzmann delivered a 1,500-page judgement that found the product was neither fit for purpose or of merchantable quality. She also found that Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon Sarl and Ethicon, Inc. were negligent.

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