Federal Judges Are Debating If Morcellator Lawsuits Should Be ConsolidatedA panel of federal judges will determine if power morcellator plaintiff's motion to consolidate is the right course of action. On October 1st, 2015 a panel of federal judges listened to arguments from both plaintiffs and defendants in numerous power morcellator lawsuits. Ultimately the panel will decide whether or not all federally-filed complaints should be consolidated into a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL).
Why Consolidate?The plaintiffs are arguing that all power morcellator lawsuits should be moved to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas under the Hon. Kathryn H. Vratil. The motion to consolidate indicates that the request is being made because “the complaints all assert product liability claims against Defendants based on allegations that the use of a Power Morcellator device during a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy for the removal of uterine fibroids can and did cause the dissemination and upstaging of occult cancer or the development of recurrent parasitic fibroids,”.
The motion also argues that it will save each plaintiff and their families time and money because without consolidation each discovery will be on an individual basis and essentially duplicate.
The Argument Against ConsolidationFour morcellator manufacturers have filed responses to the motion to consolidate: Johnson & Johnson, Karl Storz GmbH, Richard Wolf GmbH, and Gyrus ACM. These companies are arguing that consolidation would not actually expedite the process since there are so many manufacturing companies named in the lawsuits.
The Power MorcellatorAround 30 lawsuits have been filed at this time against power morcellator manufacturers, each one alleging that the use of a morcellator during a gynecological surgery spread undetected uterine cancer.
The investigation into the risks associated with morcellation has gained momentum ever since the first morcellator lawsuit was filed in March 2014. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a safety warning soon after this complaint was filed, urging surgeons to reconsider using the morcellator on women being treated for uterine fibroids.
The FDA reported that they had estimated 1 in 350 women undergoing hysterectomies or myomectomies to treat uterine fibroids would also have undiagnosed uterine cancer. Due to the encapsulating nature of the fibroids, there is still no testing available that can accurately determine if a fibroid contains uterine cancer.
Recently the U.S. Government Accountability Office announced that it would be performing an investigation into the process through which the FDA approved the power morcellator in 1991.