A new multidistrict litigation has been established in the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, for power morcellator lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon, Inc. subsidiary. According to an Order issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on October 15th, the proceeding will initially encompass more than two dozen Ethicon morcellator lawsuits, but similar cases filed in federal courts in the future will most likely be transferred to Kansas as well.

Morcellators and Cancer

Power morcellators are used in minimally-invasive hysterectomies and myomectomies to shred uterine tissue and fibroids into small pieces so that it may be removed via a small incision in the abdomen. At one time, an estimated 50,000 uterine morcellation procedures were being performed every year. But in April 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) publically discouraged doctors from using power morcellators in gynecological surgeries because of the possibility that the devices might spread and upstage undetected uterine cancers into a woman’s peritoneal cancer.

In November 2014, the agency went even further, and warned against uterine morcellation for the majority of women. Device manufacturers were also ordered to add a new boxed warning detailing the cancer risk to all power morcellator labels. According to the FDA, 1 in 350 women undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy for the treatment of fibroids is found to have an unsuspected uterine sarcoma. There is no reliable way to screen for these malignancies prior to surgery. Upstaging of the disease can significantly reduce a woman’s chances of long-term survival.

Ethicon Morcellators

Ethicon was one of the leading morcellator manufacturers until July 2014, when it decided to suspend sales of the devices. Up until that time, it marketed three morcellator products: Gynecare Morcellex,” “Morcellex Sigma” and “Gynecare X-Tract.” All of the lawsuits currently pending against Ethicon allege that defects in the design of its morcellators increase the risk that uterine cancer cells will be disseminated during a procedure, and accuse the company of failing to adequately warn patients and doctors about these risks.

A number of other medical device manufacturers, including Karl Storz, Richard Wolf Medical Instruments, and Gyrus ACM, are also named as defendants in morcellator lawsuits. However, the JPML determined that an industry-wide multidistrict litigation would not be appropriate, finding that there are too many individual issues among their power morcellator in regards to product design, development, testing, warnings, and marketing.

Power Morcellator Legal Help

Bernstein Liebhard LLP is currently evaluating power morcellator lawsuits on behalf of women whose cancer was allegedly spread and upstage by one of these devices. To learn more, please call 877-779-1414 to speak with our legal staff today.

Published October 15, 2015 by