Johnson & Johnson (J&J) executives are currently under the microscope as to whether or not they engaged in criminal activity when they “lost” documents critical to lawsuits filed against them.

As we noted in previous posts, on February 4th, a federal magistrate judge ruled that Ethicon, a subsidiary of J&J, destroyed or lost documents that should have been preserved in anticipation of litigation involving its pelvic mesh devices. However, the judge also found that Ethicon’s loss of evidence was negligent, rather than willful or deliberate.

Nevertheless, advocates for women injured by J&J’s products recently urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether J&J actually did intentionally destroy the documents. Specifically, on March 26, 2014, a patient advocacy consumer group called, the Corporate Action Network, filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, asking Attorney General, Eric Holder, to investigate whether or not J&J executives engaged in criminal activity by destroying records in a federal probe. In its letter, the group stated:

 “We respectfully request that you investigate Johnson and Johnson, Inc. and its top executives including Chairman and CEO, Alex Gorsky, for two possible criminal violations: first, for obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses in apparent violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1518 and second, for destruction of documents in apparent violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1519. This request follows the recent discovery of document destruction by Johnson and 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.”

Essentially, advocates have pushed for a criminal investigation into whether J&J executives committed the crime of tampering with evidence, which includes knowingly destroying or altering documents “in contemplation of” an investigation or other proceeding by the federal government that may occur in the future. (18 U.S.C. § 1519.)

As we stated in one of our past articles entitled, Ethicon and its Faulty Pelvic Mesh Devices: Destroying Valentine’s Day…and Implicating Documents, we can only guess that the conveniently missing documents were ones that did not paint J&J in a good light. But whether J&J deliberately destroyed the documents, or lost them due to its own negligence, the outcome is the same: The documents are gone. And it’s to the plaintiffs’ detriment.

The Law Offices of Justinian Lane remain committed to helping women who have been severely injured by pelvic mesh devices. We continue to offer free consultations to prospective clients, so if you have been harmed by pelvic mesh, please contact our law firm for more information.