Mesh Implant Recall Lawsuit

The second federal trial related to a C.R. Bard transvaginal mesh lawsuit came to an early conclusion last week after the parties were able to reach an undisclosed settlement. According to a report from the Charleston Daily Gazette, lawyers in the case were just about to begin their opening statements when the settlement was announced.
It would have been the second trial in a federal multidistrict litigation established for C.R. Bard vaginal mesh lawsuits in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of West Virginia. In the litigation’s first trial, a week prior, the Plaintiff was awarded $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages for vaginal mesh complications she sustained due to C.R. Bard’s Avaulta Plus pelvic mesh device.
These lawsuits are among thousands that have been filed across the country by women who allegedly suffered horrific complications following implantation of pelvic mesh during uro-gynecological surgeries to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.
Numerous medical device makers, including American Medical Systems, C.R. Bard, Boston Scientific, and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit all have been named in mesh implant lawsuits.
To date, plaintiffs have prevailed in every transvaginal mesh lawsuit that has gone to trial. In addition to last week’s loss in court, a California trial last year involving the same Avaulta Plus mesh device led to a $3 million judgement against C.R. Bard. The first Ethicon mesh lawsuit to go to trial ended in March in New Jersey Superior Court, with the jury awarded awarding more than $11 million in compensatory and punitive damages to woman who was injured by the company’s Gynecare Prolift device.
Synthetic mesh has been popular with surgeons and been used to shore up the vaginal wall in cases of pelvic organ prolapse – a weakening of the muscles and ligaments that support organs like the bladder and uterus. The condition causes extreme discomfort and is potentially dangerous. Symptoms caused by mesh erosion include:

  • Bleeding
  • Urinary problems
  • Vaginal scarring
  • Infections
  • Pain during sex
  • Discomfort
  • Bowel, bladder, and blood vessel perforation

Use of transvaginal mesh to repair pelvic organ prolapse had grown in popularity, in spite of early reports of problems caused by the mesh. In 2008, the Food & Drug Administration issued a warning that the use of vaginal mesh was associated with complications but said at the time that such problems were rare. However, according to Dr. William Maisel, the chief scientist of the F.D.A. division that oversees medical devices, from 2008 to 2010 there was a fivefold increase in adverse event reports related to the use of vaginal mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse.
A research study released in 2010 in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology reported 15 percent of the women treated with vaginal mesh experienced potential complications. The study also concluded that mesh did not provide greater benefits than the traditional surgical treatment in which a patient’s own ligaments are used to strengthen the vaginal wall.
In July 2011, the F.D.A. warned that it had received an increasing number of adverse event reports associated with the use of such products and since then litigation for mesh implant lawsuits has built steadily.
In lawsuits involving transvaginal mesh devices it has been alleged that these products were defectively manufactured and inadequately tested. It has also further been alleged that transvaginal mesh implant manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings about their dangers.
The makers of transvaginal mesh continue to deny responsibility for the horrible problems experienced by women who have received the device. However, justice has yet to be on their side as litigation continues to favor plaintiffs. The question remains, are the manufacturers more concerned about their profits, or the patients they serve?

Lawsuit Evidence and FDA Actions Doom Metal Hip Implants

Lawsuit Evidence and FDA Actions Doom Metal Hip Implants
A front page article in the January 23 New York Times, Maker Aware of 40% Failure in Hip Implant, revealed that Johnson & Johnson knew of widespread failure with the troubled all-metal hip joint it had recalled in 2010. Even as the company became aware of the extent of the products failure, it continued to publicly play down similar findings from the British implant registry.
The internal study, conducted by Johnson & Johnson, is just one of hundreds of documents expected to be made public as the first of over 10,000 lawsuits begins this week in California superior court in Los Angeles.
In the analysis, Johnson & Johnson found that nearly 40 percent of the patients who received the now-recalled Articular Surface Replacement, or ASR joint, would experience failure within five years. It also found that thousands more patients will likely experience premature failure in up-coming years and be forced to undergo painful and costly replacement surgery.
The trial is expected to uncover what officials of Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics division knew about the device’s problems, both pre- and post-recall, and what actions they took. This episode represents one of the biggest medical device failures in decades and these early documents bring into question how forthright DePuy was in dealing with the problem. Even after the company recalled the device in 2010 it continued to challenge the validity of the British registry findings, which had found a failure rate in at least one-third of patients with the device.
Metal hip implants made by all manufacturers have been failing at an unacceptable rate for years. The DuPuy ASR joint was only the first to be recalled. Since then the Smith & Nephew R3 and the Zimmer Durom Cup have also been recalled. The Stryker Rejuvenate was recalled in 2012 for metal contamination as well but in that case the metal was leaching from the modular neck joint.
As a result of these failures the FDA recently posted a proposed order addressing metal hip implants. The new order, if approved, will require all hip implant manufacturers to go through Premarket Approval Process to keep any existing metal-on-metal hip implant on the market or to put a new metal on metal product on the market.
Metal on Metal joints still on the market such as The Biomet Magnum, the Encore and the Wright Profemur Converse, Dynasty, and Lineage are also failing at unacceptably high rates. Ironically the new order and PMA process faced by these manufacturers might allow them to avoid recalls. By citing the prohibitive cost of preparing a PMA application they can simply cease production without ever acknowledging an admission of failure in the joints.
So, as the trial prepares to begin in California this week, the early release of documents showing that DePuy long knew of the high failure rate while simultaneously trying to downplay the situation would indicate the company was more concerned with limiting its financial liability than being forthright with patients. Even after the company instituted its own recall of the suspect joint in 2010 it methodically continued to challenge medical findings that indicated a high failure rate.
Continued public disclosure of documents from the civil lawsuits and the data collected by the FDA will help protect the public from companies that put their own profits ahead of safety.

Stryker Rejuvenate Metal Hip Implant Cases Moving Forward in Federal CourtStryker Rejuvenate Metal Hip Implant Cases Moving Forward in Federal Court

Stryker Rejuvenate Metal Hip Implant Cases Moving Forward in Federal Court
On July 5, 20013 Minneapolis United State District Judge Donovan Frank filed an order notifying attorneys that he plans to schedule the first federal hearing on the Stryker Rejuvenate in August 2013. All Rejuvenate cases in U.S. federal court have been transferred to Judge Frank for pretrial management.
There are a large number of lawsuits that are moving forward in the New Jersey state court where Stryker is located before Judge Brian Martinotti. So far there have been no jury trials involving the Stryker Rejuvenate metal hips that were recalled last year.
The Stryker Rejuvenate was recalled in 2012 as a result of high failure rates from metallosis in patients. Metallosis is an injury to the tissues in the hip from chromium and cobalt metal particles leaching from the metal hip implant into the tissue and blood of patients. Many Rejuvenate implant patients have had to have revision surgery to remove the implants and replace them with a different product.
The lawsuits are individual cases not class actions so each injured patient who wants to make a claim needs an individual attorney to file their lawsuit. It is important to get prompt legal advice and representation because there are time limits for filing claims. Missing these time limits can cause an injured individual to be left out of any settlement that occurs in these cases. So far, I am not aware of any Stryker Rejuvenate lawsuits that have been settled by Stryker. However, Stryker has arranged to pay co-copays and help uninsured patients pay for revision surgeries through their insurance adjusting firm called Broadspire. Patients should be aware that filing a claim with Broadspire will not protect their legal rights for full compensation or to participate in a larger settlement. Filing a claim with Broadspire also will not satisfy the requirement that a person’s lawsuit be filed within a certain period of time called a statute of limitations. This time period for the statute of limitations varies according to the facts of each case and the state in which the Stryker patient lives or has surgery.
Our law firm, Saunders & Walker, is currently filing lawsuits to protect the rights of injured Stryker patients and to be sure that they do not miss the statute of limitations.

Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett Lawsuit

Mutual Pharmaceutical v. Bartlett Lawsuit
This week, in a far-reaching decision, the U.S. Supreme Court demonstrated once again that pro-business decisions are defining the Roberts court.
In a case involving Philadelphia’s Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., the court split 5-4 along the traditional conservative-liberal line to award a victory for the drug industry and, indirectly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The court ruled that federal law related to pharmaceutical regulations preempts a person’s ability to sue in state courts and allege that a generic drug is designed badly.
The generic drug industry, which accounts for almost 80 percent of the U.S. market, now has a blanket exemption from liability. The ruling means that consumers who take name-brand drugs can sue for damages, but consumers who take a generic version of the same drug can’t sue
This ruling came from the case of Mutual Pharmaceutical Company v. Bartlett. Karen Bartlett suffered a rare, severe skin reaction three weeks after starting therapy with a generic version of the pain reliever Clinoril. She is now legally blind. She claimed not only that Mutual didn’t adequately warn of its drug’s dangers, but also that the product was defective and shouldn’t have been sold. A jury awarded her $21 million for her injuries. Mutual Pharmaceuticals argued that the product and its label were FDA-approved and that those approvals preempt Bartlett’s state-court claims.
The conservative majority wrote that Bartlett’s situation was “tragic and evokes deep sympathy,” but said the law requires that the judgment of the lower court be reversed.
Business decisions by the Supreme Court are almost always overshadowed by cases on controversial social issues. But the business docket reflects something truly distinctive about the court led by Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Studies have shown the current court over all is only slightly more conservative than the courts led by Justices Warren E. Burger and William Rehnquist. Business decisions have been far friendlier to business than any court since at least World War II.
Since the Bartlett decision, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and five other lawmakers wrote to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and asked her to rewrite regulations so people can sue generic drug manufacturers for injuries.
“A consumer should not have her rights foreclosed simply because she takes the generic version of a prescription drug,” Leahy said.
While the FDA has indicated they will review the court decision, given the language of the federal statute, it is unlikely they will be able to change the regulations. Past rulings by the agency have been unusually favorable to generic drug manufacturers.
But what remains most troubling in the Bartlett ruling is that the court has stripped consumers of their 7th Amendment rights to access the court and allowed a multi-billion dollar industry to operate without impunity over the consumers they serve.

Hip Replacement Implant Lawsuit News

Hip Replacement Implant Lawsuit News
From our main website:
Read more about defective hip implant devices here:
http://saunderslawyers.com or click here to contact us today.
The massive failure of metal-and-metal hip implants is one of the biggest medical device failures in history. It is a cautionary tale of our time — of what happens when the safety of patients succumbs to lax oversight, outright negligence and the drive for corporate profits.
It is, in the simplest of terms, about greed.
When metal-on-metal hips were introduced they were designed to last longer and allow for high-impact activity, such as running and jumping.
But within a few years, problems began appearing. Patients complained of acute pain and becoming immobilized by joint dislocations, infections and bone fractures. Metal-on-metal hip implants were found to be problematic because, according to the Food and Drug Administration, their components were shown to grind together and shed metallic debris. This metallic debris can damage tissue and bone and metal ions can enter the bloodstream.
DePuy Orthopedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, was the largest maker of metal-on-metal hips and over 93,000 of the company’s A.S.R replacement joint were implanted worldwide. Even before the company began marketing the A.S.R in the United States in 2005, they had been receiving complaints for years from doctors in Europe. Consulting surgeons to DePuy in Europe stopped using the device because of its poor record.
In 2007, DePuy conducted internal tests on the A.S.R and the joint failed, and reported, “The current results for A.S.R. do not meet the set acceptance criteria for this test.”
The company considered a redesign but in 2009 the Food and Drug Administration rejected an application to sell a resurfaced version of the A.S.R. in the United States. In 2010 the company was forced to issue a recall of the defective implants. Documents have since shown that DePuy executives then started calculating when the company should stop selling the A.S.R., based on the time it would take to convert surgeons to another company implant.
But DePuy was only the largest maker of metal-on-metal hip replacements. Other companies making metal-on-metal hip implants began receiving eerily similar complaints. Dislocations, infections, and pain were common in recipients.
Stryker, maker of the Rejuvenate and ABGII, recalled both hip replacement systems in July 2012. Worldwide, 30,000 of the Stryker hip systems were installed; 20,000 of them in U.S. patients. Both implants were found to be prone to corrosion, joint dislocation, and the release of metal ions which can cause metallosis, tissue inflammation, necrosis and death.
Other smaller manufacturers have also recalled their metal-on-metal hip joints such as the Smith & Nephew R3 and the Zimmer Durom Cup. However, even in spite of the dangerous health threats metal-on-metal joints are proven to pose, several products remain on the market. The Biomet Magnum, the Encore and the Wright Profemur Converse, Dynasty and Lineage, remain available, but are all failing at unacceptably high rates.
Unlike new drugs, the metal hip replacements didn’t have to undergo clinical trials before receiving approval from the FDA, the government agency with the role of protecting consumers from dangerous products.
Without rigorous independent testing that would have uncovered the dangers of metal-on-metal joints, the responsibility fell on the companies that manufactured them to insure their safety. In almost every case they failed miserably and decisions were made based on profits rather than the health and safety of the patients they served.
By 2008, DePuy was well aware of the design flaws in the A.S.R. but continued to actively market it to surgeons in the United States, who then implanted it into tens of thousands of patients. Knowing full well they had a defective product, a top sales official in the company wrote to a colleague that, “We will ultimately need a cup redesign, but the short-term action is to manage perceptions”
For the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII hip replacement systems, some doctors have predicted the failure rate might go as high as 70 percent. That would mean over 20,000 patients with the implant will have to undergo painful revisions on top of the painful complications they’ve already endured.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, since the A.S.R. was recalled more than 10,000 lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson.. In March, a California jury awarded $8.3 million to a retired prison guard who sued the company over health complications caused by his A.S.R. implant. Analysts predict total damages for the company could eventually reach a billion dollars or more.
The failure of the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII has so far led to over 100 lawsuits being filed in Bergen, N.J., where the company’s headquarters are located. With over 20,000 of the defective implants in U.S. patients, analysts expect the number of lawsuits against the company to grow dramatically.
There are many reasons patients elect to have hip-replacements, but in every case, regardless of the medical cause, patients all expect to have a better quality of life. In tens of thousands of patients, the failure of metal-on-metal joints in patients who elected to have them implanted has damaged their health and quality of life in ways that may be irreversible. Revised artificial hips often perform worse than a first prosthetic because of issues with bone loss and fit, and in addition to the pain and suffering, they are likely to never recover the same quality of life they expected.
More oversight and corporate governance that placed patient welfare above the bottom line could have prevented these patients’ suffering. But as the lawsuits continue to mount, it is clear what was at the root of this health disaster – greed.

Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Hip Implant Lawsuits Go to Minnesota Judge

Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Hip Implant Lawsuits Go to Minnesota Judge
A June 12, 2013 Court Order assigned lawsuits involving the Stryker modular neck hip implant recall to United States District Judge Donovan W. Frank in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The National Judicial Panel for the federal courts had been considering attorneys petitions to centralize all of the lawsuits involving the recalled Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants before a single judge.
This procedure is called multidistrict litigation under the federal court rules. It is not a class action. It merely coordinates all of the individual lawsuits before a single judge to avoid conflicting rulings on the same issues. It also helps to coordinate the progress of all of the cases together in the discovery process. Multidistrict litigation is very common in medical product or drug recall cases where there are many lawsuits over a defect or recall in a single product. The legal issues about the safety of the product and what the manufacturer knew and when they knew it are common issues to all of the cases. Each person who was injured by the product may have somewhat different injuries and financial losses but the legal liability of the Company is likely to be the same in all of the cases.
The federal multidistrict judge will set up a schedule to move the cases forward towards trial and also supervise and encourage the parties efforts to settle the lawsuits.
The Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants were recalled in July of 2012 after being on the market for less than three years. These products are designed with a modular neck between the stem in the femur and the ball that goes into a cup that is set in the pelvis. This modular neck was designed to allow the surgeon to pick different lengths and angles for the modular neck to try to get the best alignment and leg length for the artificial hip. Prior implant designs merely had a stem in the femur and a ball that could be placed on the end of the femur stem.
Our lawsuits against Stryker allege that the modular neck design was defective and negligent because the multiple joints involved can move slightly causing damage to the metal, corrosion and leaching of cobalt and chromium into the patients hip tissue and blood stream. This metal poisoning is called metallosis. When the hip tissues become damaged by the metallosis the hip must be removed in an operation call a hip revision and a new hip implanted.
A new article in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery confirms the same theory that we are alleging in our lawsuits. The 2013 article is titled Adverse Local Tissue Reaction Arising from Corrosion at the Femoral Neck-Body Junction in a Dual-Taper Stem with a Cobalt-Chromium Modular Neck. The article was written by H. John Cooper, MD, Robert M. Urban, PhD, Richard L. Wixson, MD, R. Michael Meneghini, MD, and Joshua J. Jacobs, MD.
The peer reviewed scientific article was based upon a case study of 12 hip implants involving the Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants that had failed. There are a number of earlier medical studies that had suggested this risk years before that should have put Stryker on notice that a modular neck design would have these problems but Stryker marketed the product anyway. This is one of the key reasons why we believe Stryker should be held liable in the lawsuits.
Read more about the Stryker Rejuvenate at Stryker Hip lawsuit Website

DePuy Hip Implant Lawsuit Verdict

DePuy Verdict Upheld
On Friday, California Judge J. Stephen Czuleger rejected DePuy Orthopedics request for a new trial, maintaining the March jury decision that found that the company’s metal-on-metal implants were defectively designed.
The judge’s decision upholds an $8.3 million award to Loren Kransky, a 65-year-old former prison guard who claimed he suffered serious health problems after an ASR system failed and metal debris spread through his body. Kransky claimed DePuy and its parent company Johnson & Johnson were responsible for injuries caused by the defective, and eventually recalled, A.S.R. hip implant.
Kransky’s was the first complaint to go to trial among the high-profile lawsuits over the implants. Johnson & Johnson announced shortly after the original trial that it would attempt to reverse the decision. The company is facing thousands of lawsuits worldwide over the defective A.S.R. joint, with the outcome of this suit closely watched. and losing this appeal could set a strong precedent for upcoming trials.
In his decision Judge Czuleger denied any attempts to appeal the ruling on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to provid enough evidence to establish that the products were defective in design.
In the Los Angeles trial, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, DePuy denied that it knew the device was defective. The company maintained that failure of the A.S.R. was entirely the result of surgeons implanting the device improperly.
The A.S.R. represents only a part of the biggest medical device failure in decades. Since its recall in 2010, the Smith & Nephew R3 and the Zimmer Durom Cup have also been recalled. The Stryker Rejuvenate was recalled in 2012 for metal contamination, but in that case the metal was leaching from the modular neck joint. Metal-on-metal joints still on the market such as the Biomet Magnum, the Encore and the Wright Profemur Converse, Dynasty, and Lineage are also failing at unacceptably high rates.
At the original trial in Los Angeles internal company documents were revealed that showed DePuy had long known of problems with the A.S.R. It was aware of abnormally high failure rates with the device yet it continued to market it aggressively in the United States even after company head Andrew Ekdahl was told by consultants that the device was faulty and failing at alarming rates.
The jury rebuked that argument entirely, and by upholding the verdict, Judge Czuleger sends a strong message to DePuy that try as it may to deny responsibility, it will ultimately have to answer to the victims of one of the greatest medical device failures in history.

Sex Abuse Molestation In The Church

It should come as no surprise that the first crisis facing Pope Francis involves a sex abuse scandal.
Roberto Octavio González Nieves, the outspoken Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been accused by Vatican emissaries of allegedly protecting pedophile priests.
This past December, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops at the Vatican, asked Archbishop Gonzalez Nieves to leave his post and move elsewhere within the Church. Since then the Vatican has made numerous more requests for the Archbishop to step down, all of which he has refused.
The U.S. territory’s most senior Catholic has said there is no reason for him to resign, despite being asked to do so by the Vatican. “Injustice, persecution, defamation, distortion of the facts and an unfair process cannot be reasons to resign,” he said in a letter to the Cardinal Ouellet in February.
The matter is important because the Vatican has long been criticized by victims of sexually abusive priests for having failed to punish bishops who shielded abusive priests, moving them from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police. If the Vatican is trying to persuade Gonzalez Nieves to resign for having done just that, it would mark a significant development.
There continue to be cases worldwide of pedophile priests being sheltered by the Catholic Church hierarchy. Many of the Cardinals who voted in Pope Francis at the conclave in March have been involved in scandals and accused of cover-ups.
The church continues to insist it will do everything it can to protect children from pedophile priests. But recent scandals in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New Jersey, Boston and Puerto Rico seem to suggest the church is still more concerned with protecting its brand than helping the victims of sexual abuse.
In Puerto Rico alone, Saunders & Walker has filed a number of federal lawsuits against various bishops for allowing and covering up sex abuse of children.
Archbishop González Nieves remains defiant and the Vatican has yet to indicate if it will forcibly remove him if he continues to resist resigning on his own. It is worth noting that the archbishop has sought the council of Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 when the clerical sex abuse scandal exploded in the U.S. Rather than being punished for covering up for the pedophiles on his staff, however, Law was given the plum job as archpriest of one of the Vatican’s major basilicas in Rome.
Perhaps in the wake of being accused of protecting pedophile priests Archbishop González Nieves sees the opportunity for a promotion.
It seems to be the way the Catholic Church works.

Teacher Sex Abuse Molestation

Teacher Sex Abuse Molestation
As more accusers came forward, a former yeshiva teacher in Lakewood New Jersey abruptly changed pleas Monday in the middle of his trial, admitting he had sexually abused a boy he met while working as a camp counselor.
Rabbi Yosef Kolko pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment. The abuse occurred from August 2008 to February 2009. It ranged from fondling to oral sex and stopped when the boy told his father, who confronted Kolko.
The change in plea came several days after the the prosecutor’s office was contacted by two other victims who also accused Kolko of sexual assault, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Laura Pierro said.
The case may be a watershed for the prosecutor’s office and the Orthodox Jewish community in Lakewood, which has in the past been reluctant to bring criminal matters to civil authorities, preferring instead to handle them through rabbinical courts and senior rabbis.
The father of the victim had originally taken the matter to rabbinical court. In the Orthodox community it is considered heretical, if not blasphemous, to take legal matters outside the community. But after a few months, he was unsatisfied with how the case was being handled and that Kolko was still teaching.
It was only after the father found out that Kolko was going to be allowed to teach at a summer sleepover camp that he approached the Lakewood prosecutor’s office.
As a result, the family was ostracized by the Orthodox Jewish community. The Asbury Park Press reported that a flier was circulated within a large Lakewood Orthodox Jewish community, saying the boy’s father had made a mockery of the Torah and committed a “terrible deed” by taking the case to state prosecutors.
Pierro, the prosecutor, claims that the father made a “historic step” in the Orthodox community by taking the accusations to her office but admits that, “there certainly are members of the community who remain outspoken against what the father did on behalf of his son.”
The conviction may be historic in the Orthodox community, but it remains a painful reminder that the scourge of child sex abuse – and the inexcusable failure of adults to do all they can to protect the victims – is not limited to the Catholic Church.
Penn State tolerated Jerry Sandusky raping children because it was more scared of the damage that might be done to the school’s reputation. Orthodox leaders were reluctant to take action against Kolko out of fear of embarrassing the community.
In every case of suspected child abuse, it is imperative that the facts be reported to the authorities and prosecutors be allowed to investigate. The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Orthodox leaders in Lakewood all failed this test. Because of that justice was delayed and more children were put at risk because predators were allowed to remain free.
It is rare that an adult driven to abuse children will stop at one victim. It continues until someone puts a stop to it.
In the end, it is not about religion or football. It is about the sexual abuse of children. That should never be tolerated, under any circumstance.
Sex Abuse Attorney

The Rev. Michael Fugee is a self-confessed pedophile.

The Rev. Michael Fugee works with youth groups, attends youth retreats, and hears the confessions of minors.
The Rev. Michael Fugee is a self-confessed pedophile.
It has recently been revealed that Fugee has openly worked with children for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church — St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, N.J. He did so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.
In 2001, Fugee confessed to twice fondling the genitals of a 14-year-old boy during wrestling matches. At the time, the priest served as assistant pastor at the Church of St. Elizabeth in Wyckoff.
Two years later, he was convicted by a jury and sentenced to five years’ probation. In 2006, an appellate panel vacated the verdict, ruling that a portion of the confession — in which Fugee described himself as bisexual or homosexual — should have been withheld from jurors because they might have drawn “an unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia.” The rest of the confession stood.
To avoid a retrial, Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest. The agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office stipulated that would have no affiliation with youth groups, would not attend youth retreats, and was barred from hearing the confessions of minors.
In recent years, Fugee has repeatedly violated that agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office – with the blessing of Archbishop Myers.
It is a pattern that has become all too familiar in the Catholic Church. When a sexual predator is identified within the church, the reaction is to deny or dismiss the charges and quietly transfer the guilty priest. Little, if any, consideration is ever given to the victims. Quite often the pedophile priests are given new assignments and parishioners there are never informed of the priest’s past.
The archdiocese of New Jersey continued to assign Fugee without disclosing his history. He held positions as Chaplain of St. Michael’s Medical Center, as co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, and lived at Church of the Sacred Heart in Rochelle Park parish. In each instance he was removed only after his past had been revealed to parishioners in the press.
At St. Mary’s, where Fugee has had an unofficial association for several years, he was originally invited to participate by the church’s youth ministers, who were longtime friends. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Thomas Triggs, was aware of Fugee’s past but chose not share that information with other parishioners.
Since his involvement with St. Mary’s was revealed by the press there has been a public outcry. Parishioners of the church are outraged they were never informed of Fugee’s past and victims groups are flabbergasted he was allowed to keep working with children.
The response from the church has been, sadly, predictable. In a feat of verbal gymnastics, Archbishop Myers defended his decision to allow Fugee to continue working in the archdiocese without informing parishioners of his past. In a letter to other priests in the parish this past February, Myers wrote that in his interpretation of the case, “no sexual abuse had occurred,” and that had guided him to allow Fugee to return to the ministry.
In spite of Fugee’s confession to having groped a teenager, in spite of Fugee’s agreement with the Bergen County prosecutors office to never to work with children again, Archbishop Myers chose to allow this pedophile priest to keep working.
What should be noted is that Archbishop Myers helped draft the 2002 Dallas Charter, which required disclosure of allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy.
What also should be noted is that in his February letter, Archbishop Myers never mentioned the two teenage boys whom Rev. Michael Fugee admitted having molested.