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Ethicon Stapler Lawsuit Ends in $80M Jury Award

December 22, 2015 — Law360 reports that a woman whose anus was sealed shut by a defective hemorrhoid stapler has been awarded $80 million by a jury in California.

The verdict includes $10 million in compensation for her injuries, plus another $70 million in punitive damages.

The lawsuit was filed by Florence Kuhlmann, a retired police officer from San Jose. In January 2012, the Ethicon PPH 03 stapler misfired during her hemorrhoid surgery. She endured 21 days of emergency hospitalization, several surgeries, infections. She continues to suffer from internal and external scarring and must use a colostomy bag.

Kuhlmann accused Ethicon of concealing the defect for 10 years, doing nothing to change the design or update the manufacturing process despite complaints. She says one-third of the staplers have a defect that can cause misfires.

Ethicon recalled over 157,000 of the hemorrhoid staplers in October 2012. According to the FDA:

“Failure to complete the firing stroke of the stapler can result in severe pain, sphincter dysfunction, rectal wall damage, sepsis, bleeding, and occlusion of the rectal canal.”

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