With the total number of morcellator lawsuits filed growing at a rapid pace, six plaintiffs have chosen to file a motion before the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation requesting that all federally filed claims be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas before the Hon. Kathryn H. Vratil for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
The motion states that “transfer to a single district will be convenient for the parties and witnesses and will promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.” Multidistrict litigation (MDL) is often requested in cases where there are a large number of lawsuits around the country regarding the same issue. The cases must have one or more questions of fact in common.
In this motion, all of the lawsuits allege that the use of a power morcellator during a hysterectomy or myomectomy caused the dissemination of unsuspected uterine cancer and that the plaintiffs were not warned of the risks associated with the use of a power morcellator.
In response, four morcellator manufacturers have filed briefs which argue against the motion to consolidate. Johnson & Johnson, Gyrus ACMI, Richard Wolf GmbH, and Karl Storz GmbH, have argued that the lawsuits are filed against too many manufacturers and that not enough lawsuits have been filed for a MDL to occur.
A hearing has been scheduled for October 1st, 2015 to determine an outcome for this motion.
What Makes Power Morcellator Use So Dangerous?
Power morcellator lawsuits have gained national attention since March 14th, 2014 when the first morcellator lawsuit was filed. Morcellators are surgical instruments used in laparoscopic surgeries to cut and shred unwanted tissue into smaller pieces intended for removal.
In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a safety warning regarding the use of power morcellators in gynecological laparoscopic surgeries involving uterine fibroids. According to the FDA, 1 in 350 women undergoing these procedures may be harboring unsuspected uterine cancer. If the morcellator slices through a uterine fibroid containing a form of uterine cancer, such as leiomyosarcoma, the instrument could spread the cancer cells throughout the abdominal cavity.