Survivors of Defective Johnson & Johnson Pelvic Mesh Meet with NYS Attorney General, Request Criminal Investigations by State AGs into CEO’s Alleged Destruction of Documents

Today, all the female survivors of the defective Johnson & Johnson pelvic mesh implants submitted a petition and request to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, demanding a criminal investigation of J&J CEO Alex Gorsky and his alleged destruction of documents relating to the product. Prior to today’s submission, 44 states presented investigation requests to their Attorney Generals against Johnson and Johnson for its dangerous marketing of pelvic mesh.

“We call for a criminal investigation of Johnson & Johnson’s CEO Alex Gorsky for selling dangerous products to women throughout New York and then destroying documents to cover their tracks,” stated Jane Akre, who has been organizing survivors of pelvic mesh implants for more than five years.

“Across New York, women are being hurt by Johnson & Johnson’s dangerous products, and the company’s top executive, CEO Alex Gorsky, needs to be held accountable for the women he has hurt,” added Akre. “Gorsky should immediately take this dangerous pelvic mesh product off the market.”

The following request (located below) was presented to Attorney General Schniderman, urging him to investigate Johnson & Johnson’s questionable marketing of pelvic mesh devices since October 2012.

Pelvic mesh survivors in other states plan to make similar requests to other state Attorneys General in the weeks and months ahead.

Written Request

Dear Attorney General Schneiderman,

As New York survivors of pelvic mesh implants, we respectfully request that you investigate Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and its top executives, including Chairman and CEO, Alex Gorsky, for possible criminal violation of New York Penal Law Sections 215.35 and 215.40, pertaining to tampering with physical evidence in an official proceeding.

Johnson & Johnson may also be in violation of New York General Business Code Section 349 for deceptive practices concerning both their knowledge of the inherent danger of the mesh implants and the document destruction.

This request follows the recent discovery of document destruction by Johnson & Johnson as related to lawsuits brought against them by thousands of women across the United States who have been seriously injured by the corporation’s pelvic mesh implants.

It is critical that the New York Department of Law pursue this matter and demonstrate that a major U.S.-based corporation should not destroy evidence in judicial proceedings. The destruction of this evidence undermines our ability as New York women who have been hurt by Johnson & Johnson to receive justice.


In the last few years, medical device manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, have come under fire for marketing dangerous medical devices, drugs and other consumer products, often without receiving proper regulatory approval. Many of these companies, including Johnson & Johnson, have paid billions of dollars in fines in litigation and settlement costs and made repeated pledges of reform, yet continue to display an indifferent attitude toward the damages they have caused as well as a willingness to evade the law.

Currently, Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of product liability lawsuits relating to the company’s pelvic mesh implants, marketed most commonly as treatment for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. There are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of women that have been – and continue to be – implanted with these dangerous products. Women have suffered severe pain and injuries due to ineffective and dangerous implants.

Apparent Violation of Law

On February 4, 2014, a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia concluded that Johnson & Johnson improperly destroyed thousands of documents regarding the development of pelvic mesh products implanted in women.

The Magistrate found that Ethicon, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, manufactured the implants and destroyed documents pertaining to their effectiveness and safety from as far back as 2007. Alex Gorsky, the current Chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, was the head of that subsidiary beginning in 2008, and Gorsky has continued to oversee that subsidiary since 2008, before much of the destruction occurred.
Johnson & Johnson may well have violated New York Penal Law 215.40, “Tampering with physical evidence,” which states:  “A person is guilty of tampering with physical evidence when believing that certain physical evidence is about to be used in a prospective official proceeding […] he suppresses it by any action of concealment, alteration or destruction […].” ‘Official proceeding’ is defined as any “proceeding conducted by or before a legally constituted judicial agency […] in which the evidence may properly be received.”

After initial denials by top executives, it is now clear that Johnson & Johnson destroyed thousands of documents related to Ethicon’s development and marketing of pelvic mesh implants.

Investigations into the pelvic mesh products produced by several companies, including Johnson & Johnson, date back to before October 20, 2008, when the FDA first issued a Public Health Notification.

Beginning in March 2005, Johnson & Johnson sold one of its most popular devices, the Gynecare Prolift, without alerting the Food and Drug Administration for three years. When the FDA was made aware of the Prolift, the agency informed Johnson & Johnson that the device required government approval.

In May 2008, the Prolift was finally cleared for sale, but only under the claim of “substantial equivalence” to devices already on the market. It had never been rigorously tested nor demonstrated effective in clinical trials.

On March 7, 2014, it was reported that corporations that develop pelvic mesh products have been under criminal investigation by state attorneys general for possible Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Johnson & Johnson and its CEO Alex Gorsky may also be in violation of New York General Business Code Section 349 for deceptive practices concerning both his corporation’s knowledge of the inherent danger of the mesh implants as well as the document destruction.

The Magistrate’s decision was necessarily based solely on the filings in the civil case.  The New York Department of Law, of course, has the authority to conduct a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the full extent of the document destruction, and it should do so.

The fact that Johnson & Johnson has offices and conducts business throughout New Yorkband that its Chairman and CEO Alex Gorsky has a residence in New York City only adds to the importance of the New York Department of Law pursuing this matter.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the world’s largest corporations whose products affect women, children and others. This investigation is urgent because the lives and safety of so many women in New York and across the United States depend on it.



Hope Pagano – Huntington, NY
Deborah Contestabile – Rochester, NY
Carolyn Parker – Honeoye, NY
Dolly Pena – Brooklyn, NY
Annette Boggs – Union Springs, NY
Theresa Buoniello – East Moriches, NY
New York survivors of pelvic mesh implants.

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