A Texas appellate court has overturned a US$1.2 million judgment against Johnson & Johnson in a pelvic mesh case, holding that the plaintiff did not offer legally sufficient evidence that a defect in Johnson & Johnson's TVT-O pelvic mesh caused her injuries. In Johnson and Johnson v. Batiste, No. 05-14-00864-CV, 2015 WL 6751063 (Tex. App.—Dallas Nov. 5, 2015, no pet. h.), the Dallas Court of Appeals applied Texas precedent requiring that a plaintiff in a strict liability design defect case establish a causal connection between her alleged injury and the defective condition of a product, rather than the product itself. While the parties did not dispute that the plaintiff suffered several of a number of potential complications of the implantation of the TVT-O device, the court concluded that she had not sufficiently tied her injuries to the alleged defects in the device and cautioned that "[t]he law of products liability does not guarantee that a product will be risk-free."
Batiste, the first pelvic mesh case to go to trial in Texas, provides added leverage for defendants confronted with allegations of causation framed in general (product-oriented) rather than specific (defect-oriented) terms. This spotlight on Texas's strict application of its causation standard also provides an important reminder that defendants in design defect litigation may find this to be a significant advantage of having a Texas venue.