Morcellator Cancer Lawsuits Allege Ethicon’s Power Morcellators Spread And Upstage Uterine Cancer When Used During Laparoscopic Surgery To Remove Fibroids.
The judge presiding over the federal morcellator cancer lawsuits against Ethicon Inc. has given priority to cases in discovery involving women with dire health conditions or near death. The morcellator cancer lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, allege that women developed uterine cancer, including a rare and aggressive form called leiomyosarcoma, after undergoing surgery for fibroid removal that involved a power morcellator. The cases have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
In an order issued on January 7, U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara established a procedure for discovery involving women who are “in extremis,” a legal term used for the last illness before death. A woman will be considered “in extremis” when “she is expected to reach, within the next twelve months, a state or condition of difficulty in testifying competently in a deposition or being no longer capable of testifying competently in a deposition and is unlikely to recover sufficiently to provide competent testimony at a later date,” the order stated. Discovery may be expedited when necessary. The order allows the defendants to take depositions of these women first, but the process is not to exceed seven hours. (In Re: Power Morcellator Products Liability Litigation – MDL No. 2652)
“Women allege in their morcellator cancer lawsuits that power morcellators upstaged their cancer and shortened their chances of survival,” says Southern Med Law’s Founder, Dr. François Blaudeau, a member of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the power morcellator litigation. “Our Firm has spoken with women, or their survivors, who described the immediate health decline after having surgery in which a power morcellator was used.”
Laparoscopic power morcellators are used during a hysterectomy or myomectomy. The surgical device’s spinning blades shred uterine tissue into small pieces so the fragments can be removed through small incisions in the abdomen. The undetected cancer cells spread into the peritoneal cavity as the uterine tissue is being removed. Power morcellator surgery is typically less invasive than traditional surgery and reduces recovery time because the abdominal incisions are smaller than traditional open-surgery hysterectomies.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued two morcellator cancer warnings since April 2014. The agency first warned about the morcellators potential to disseminate dangerous uterine malignancies. In November 2014, the FDA ordered morcellator manufacturers to add a black box warning to their products’ labeling regarding the cancer risk. The FDA also cautioned against the use of power morcellators in the majority of women who require a myomectomy and hysterectomy. The FDA has estimated that 1 in 352 women with fibroids have undiagnosed uterine sarcoma, while 1 in 498 have leiomyosarcoma, the more aggressive form of the disease.
[fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm424443.htm, November 24, 2014]
Southern Med Law is currently representing women in two morcellator complaints against Ethicon Inc. In March 2014, the Firm was the first in the United States to file a morcellator cancer lawsuit. The case, that named morcellator makers LiNA Medical APS. Kebomed AG & LiNA Medical US as defendants, was filed on behalf of Scott Burkhart, a Pennsylvania widower whose wife died of disseminated leiomyosarcoma in February 2013, which she developed after undergoing a power morcellator hysterectomy. The lawsuit was settled in July and details of the settlement were not disclosed (Case No. 5:14-cv-1557, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
About Southern Med Law and Filing A Power Mocellator Lawsuit Claim: Southern Med Law is an experienced law firm providing legal representation to the men and women across the country who have been victims of negligent personal injuries, medical malpractice, dangerous drugs, faulty medical devices and defective products. Led by Dr. François Blaudeau, an attorney and a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, the legal staff at Southern Med Law possesses a deep understanding of the complex medical and legal questions at issue in all manner of product liability and personal injury claims. They’re not afraid to take on the nation’s largest corporations in their pursuit of justice, and are committed to ensuring that all victims have access to the type of aggressive legal advocacy that assures success.
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