Dallas Jury Awards Woman Largest Amount So Far in Vaginal Mesh Lawsuit

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

Dallas County jurors last week spent about three hours deliberating before they awarded Martha Salazar $73 million, the largest amount of money any plaintiff has received so far in a vaginal mesh lawsuit. Most of the thousands of lawsuits that women have filed against Big Pharma over the devices are stuck in a federal court in West Virginia, but a few suits have escaped that slow system and have ended up in local civil courts, including Salazar's suit against Boston Scientific.

"I have not seen any device that I'm aware of that has a $70 million dollar verdict on a single case," says Tim Goss, one of Salazar's attorneys.

Most of that award, a whopping $50 million, was punitive -- given to Salazar to punish the defendant. Texas' business-friendly laws impose strict caps on punitive damages, and Goss estimates that the actual award for Salazar will be closer to $36 million after those laws go into effect on the ruling. Boston Scientific is also likely to appeal. Whatever amount Salazar finally ends up with from the courts, she'll get to keep about 60 percent of it, Goss says, and the rest will go to her attorneys.

Salazar, 42, was a healthy woman with a full-time job before she was underwent surgery to cure minor bladder problems, she said in her suit. Now, she says that she's in constant pain, a story repeated by the thousands of other women who had what they thought would be a minor, minimally-invasive surgery.

See also: Women vs. Big Pharma in the Battle Over Trans-vaginal Mesh

Salazar's being married also played a role in the award. The Mesh Medical Device news site breaks down how the jury came to the $73 million amount and shows that jurors gave Salazar's husband $1 million for loss of consortium. Jurors also gave the husband $515,000 for loss of household services.

For Aaron Horton, the so-called "mesh warrior" patient activist we profiled in a May cover story, the $73 million remains an important symbol for her and the patients she works with, no matter how much of it Salazar actually gets to keep.

"For 12 jurors to come to a unanimous decision that that large of a punitive damage is necessary, is validation for all of these women," Horton says. "People have family members who don't believe they're in as much pain as they are. People have doctors who don't believe they're in as much pain as they are."

See also: Greg Abbott Not Totally Afraid of Lady Parts, Takes on Big Pharma Over Vaginal Mesh

Horton has spoken with a few patients who told her that they received the mesh implants without giving consent to their doctors ahead of time. Rather, they told her that they were under the knife for another problem and woke up to find out that their doctors also gave them a mesh implant, "as if it's a good thing," Horton says, that the doctors "threw in for free."

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.