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Jurors Recommend $25 Million for Woman Who Had Leaky Breast Implant

December 24, 1992

HOUSTON (AP) _ A jury recommended awarding $25 million in damages to a woman who had a partial mastectomy after her breast implant ruptured.

Pamela Jean Johnson, 45, had sought $64.3 million, but was satisfied after jurors in state District Court read the verdict Wednesday in Texas’ first civil lawsuit to go to trial against a silicone breast implant maker.

″There’s no price you can put on this,″ she said.

The $25 million recommended judgment was believed to be a U.S. record.

In her lawsuit, she contended Medical Engineering Corp., and its parent company, Bristol Myers Squibb Co., produced and marketed implants they knew were defective or had been insufficiently tested.

She underwent surgery for MEC implants in 1976 and 1989. The first set ruptured in 1989, and Ms. Johnson’s doctor, in attempting to remove the ruptured shell and silicone, performed a partial mastectomy.

She contended she was permanently disfigured and contracted auto-immune disease, which has caused her headaches, fatigue and joint pain.

Defense attorney W.J. Mays had argued the company did thorough testing of its product. He argued there was no proof Ms. Johnson’s medical problems were the result of the rupture and that they more likely were caused by her 20-year habit of smoking up to two packs of cigarettes a day.

″We disagree with the verdict and plan to appeal,″ Francine Gingras, spokeswoman for MEC, said Wednesday.

Judge Don Wittig will determine Jan. 11 whether to accept the verdict.

Previous breast implant lawsuits have gone to trial in federal court. In April, a federal judge in San Francisco upheld a $7.3 million damage award to a woman whose breast implant ruptured.

Ms. Johnson’s attorney, John O’Quinn, said he hoped Wednesday’s decision would prompt the settlement of at least 1,000 other cases filed in the Houston area since Ms. Johnson’s case began.

The federal Food and Drug Administration imposed a voluntary moratorium on the implants last year.

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