Big Damages Possible in Power Morcellator MDL Lawsuits

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has recently been asked to consolidate 21 federal lawsuits against the manufacturers of power morcellator devices. While the number of cases is not particularly large at this juncture, lawyers involved in the litigation predict that number will grow particularly given the severity of injury in these cases. The plaintiffs in power morcellator cases typically have substantial medical bills and most of the plaintiffs are within their peak earning years of 40-60. The damages may be even greater if it turns out Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers of the power morcellator were aware of the risks of the device, yet failed to issue warnings to doctors, hospitals and consumers.

FBI Investigates Whether Power Morcellator Manufacturers Knew of Dangers

According to the husband of one alleged power morcellator victim, the FBI is investigating the issue. Hooman Noorchashm says FBI agents interviewed his wife and spoke to a retired pathologist regarding the risk of uterine cancer caused by power morcellators. Dr. Robert Lamparter began looking at morcellated uterine samples in 2005; by 2006 the doctor says he alerted Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, Ethicon regarding potential problems associated with the morcellator. In fact, Lamparter told J & J that “If morcellation is done, the patient’s survival is jeopardized.” Noorchashm says the FBI’s involvement centers around why Johnson & Johnson and other power morcellator manufacturers did not report the alert from Dr. Lamparter to the FDA as required by law.

FDA Weighs In on Power Morcellators

In April 2014 the FDA warned that patients with undiagnosed uterine cancer who underwent a hysterectomy or removal of fibroids using a power morcellator risked the spread of cancerous cells within the abdomen and pelvis. When a power morcellator is used in these surgical procedures, the chances of long-term survival are greatly reduced. By November 2014 the FDA issued requirements for stronger warnings regarding the risks of power morcellators to the manufacturers of the devices. Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall of their power morcellator devices in July 2014, yet many power morcellator devices are still being used in hospitals across the nation.

One Power Morcellator Case Settled to Date

The 21 plaintiffs who will be included in the MDL are suing four power morcellator manufacturers, with sixteen of the cases tied to Johnson & Johnson and their subsidiary, Ethicon. One of the cases additionally includes medical malpractice claims against three physicians and a hospital as well as a product liability claim. There are roughly a dozen additional power morcellator cases pending in state courts across the country. There have been no power morcellator cases which have made it to trial as yet, however a case filed in March 2014 was settled in June 2015 (Burkhardt v. Lina Medical U.S.).

The Risks Associated with Power Morcellators

A power morcellator device has small spinning blades which grind up tissue, removing it through a small abdominal incision. Unfortunately, at least one in every 350 women has uterine sarcoma, a form of cancer which cannot be reliably detected prior to surgery. The morcellator can release this cancerous tissue into the abdominal cavity, quickly taking a localized stage one cancer to a metastatic stage four cancer.

Johnson & Johnson Opposes Motion to Consolidate

Johnson & Johnson has asked that the motion to consolidate the 21 power morcellator cases into an MDL be denied, claiming wide variation in the medical circumstances of the plaintiffs as well as too small a number of cases. One attorney involved in the power morcellator lawsuits claims the number of women harmed by a power morcellator is likely in the hundreds, but that the cases are difficult to locate as the women affected could currently be in a battle for their life. A New York lawyer involved in the power morcellator cases says the calculation of risks associated with the morcellators could be a major issue in the case. In the end, the issue of whether the manufacturers were aware—or should have been aware—of the potential risks to women may be a significant factor in the lawsuits.

National Dangerous Drug Lawyers

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with advanced stage uterine cancer after your physician used a morcellator during your hysterectomy, you may be able to file a lawsuit. To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the Philadelphia class action lawyers at Golomb Legal, P.C. today at 215-278-4449 or fill out our confidential contact form.