A panel of judges will soon decide whether all federally-filed power morcellator lawsuits should be centralized in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pre-trial proceedings. According to an Order dated August 14th, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will hear Oral Arguments on the matter when it convenes its next Hearing Session, which is scheduled for October 1st in New York City.
At least 22 lawsuits have been filed in 16 different U.S. District Courts against the manufacturers of power mocellators, a surgical tool used to shred uterine tissue and fibroids during minimally-invasive gynecological surgeries. All of the complaints were filed on behalf of women who allegedly experienced the spread of undiagnosed uterine cancers as a result of morcellation, and all similarly claim that device manufacturers failed to adequately warn patients and doctors about the potential for power morcellators to spread and upstage undetected uterine cancer cells.
In June, a group of six plaintiffs petitioned the JPML asking that all federally-filed morcellator lawsuits be centralized in a multidistrict litigation and transferred to the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas. Among other things, the plaintiffs argued that the current number of filings, coupled with the expectation that numerous additional lawsuits will soon be filed, warrants centralization of the docket.
The medical device companies that manufacture and market power morcellators are opposed to centralization. In responses filed with the Panel last month, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary, Karl Storz, Richard Wolf Medical Instruments, and Gyrus ACMI asserted that there are too few cases and too many different products involved to justify establishing a multidistrict litigation. In its response, Ethicon also asked the JPML to reject separate proceedings for each manufacturer.
Both sides will have the chance make their case to the JPML on October 1st. The Hearing Session is to begin at 9:30 a.m. in t the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse.
Since April 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has issued two alerts regarding the potential for power morcellators to disseminate undetected uterine sarcoma and other gynecological cancers when used in hysterectomies and fibroid removal surgery. Its second notification in November 2014 specifically warned against the use of uterine morcellation in the vast majority of women who require such surgeries. According to the FDA, 1 in 350 women undergoing surgery for symptomatic uterine fibroids may actually have undiagnosed cancer cells hidden within their fibroids, which can advance to its most dangerous stage if the cells are disseminated beyond the uterus as a result of morcellation.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP is providing free, no-obligation legal reviews to alleged victims of morcellators and cancer. If you or a woman you love was diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer following morcellation, please call to learn more.