Federally-filed Ethicon morcellator lawsuits are heading to a centralized litigation established earlier this month by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). At least 28 cases filed on behalf of women who allegedly experienced the spread of uterine cancer following a morcellator hysterectomy or myomectomy have been transferred to the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Any federal cases involving Ethicon, Inc.’s morcellator products will likely be transferred to the new litigation, as well.
Ethicon, Inc., a division of Johnson & Johnson, was once a leading manufacturer of power morcellators. Until recently, the devices were a popular choice for women who required hysterectomy and uterine fibroid removal. During minimally-invasive procedures, morcellators are used to shred uterine tissue and fibroids to facilitate their removal via a small abdominal incision. However, morecellator lawsuit plaintiffs claim that the devices can spread undetected uterine cancer cells into the peritoneal cavity, upstaging the disease and reducing a woman’s chances of long-term survival.
In opting to consolidate the cases pending against Ethicon, the JPML determined that the claims would benefit from coordinated pretrial proceedings, as they share a number of common factual allegations. Among other things, all of the plaintiffs assert that Ethicon’s morcellators were defective, and they accuse the company of failing to provide doctors and patients with adequate warnings about their risks.
The litigation involving power morcellators has been growing since late 2013. Since April 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two warnings regarding the potential for morcellators to spread and upstage uterine cancer, and it now cautions against the use of uterine morcellation in the majority of patients who require hysterectomy and myomectomy. The FDA estimates that approximately 1 in 350 women undergoing these procedures for the treatment of fibroids is found to have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma. There is currently no reliable method to screen for cancer prior to surgery.
Ethicon marketed three morcellator products: Gynecare Morcellex, Morcellex Sigma and Gynecare X-Tract. However, the company suspended sales of those devices in July 2014.
Women who were diagnosed with advanced uterine cancers following morcellation may be entitled to compensation. To learn more about filing your own morcellator lawsuit, please call Bernstein Liebhard LLP today: .