All Morcellator Lawsuits To Be Tried In KansasOn Thursday October 15, 2015, it was announced that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation had agreed to consolidate all power morcellator lawsuits into a MDL. The panel also agreed to allow the complaints to be assigned to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
The Motion To ConsolidateSix plaintiffs, each with their own power morcellator lawsuit, filed the motion to consolidate on June 18th, 2015. The consolidation of the more than 30 morcellator claims means that all plaintiffs will be presided over by one judge, in one court. The argument in the motion filed, indicated that consolidation was a good idea because each of the power morcellator lawsuits contains the same essential allegations. These allegations claim that the use of a morcellator during gynecological surgery can spread undetected uterine cancer. The motion also indicates that it would expedite the legal process and save the plaintiffs both time and money.
Four morcellator manufacturing companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Karl Storz GmbH, Gyrus ACMI, and Richard Wolf GmbH, all fought the motion to consolidate. Their attorneys argued that there were too many companies involved and that it would not expedite the legal process.
Power Morcellator LawsuitsThe first power morcellator lawsuit was filed on March 14th, 2014, by the widower of a woman who had died the month before of uterine cancer. His complaint named LiNA Medical U.S. as the defendant. He alleged that the morcellator used during his wife’s laparoscopic hysterectomy disseminated undetected uterine cancer throughout her abdominal cavity.
The morcellator is a surgical instrument which is frequently favored by surgeons because it allows them to perform minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries. The device enters the abdomen through an incision, where it cuts and shreds the tissue intended for removal. Recently the medical community became aware that as the tool cuts, it may force cells far outside of the surgical field to other parts of the body cavity. If cancer cells are spread in such a manner, it may help the metastasis process, resulting in new tumors throughout the body.
The month after this complaint was filed, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a safety warning. This warning stated that the FDA now believed that the use of a morcellator during a gynecological surgery to treat uterine fibroids was dangerous, due to the risk that the device might spread undiagnosed uterine cancer. They recommended that doctors stop using the surgical instrument during hysterectomies and myomectomies.
Following this announcement, morcellator lawsuits were filed with increasing momentum against various manufacturing companies. Currently, the only complaint to have reached a settlement agreement is the first one. The rest are awaiting trial.