Morcellator Lawsuit Discovery Now Underway, “In Extremis” Plaintiffs Given Priority
The multidistrict litigation recently established for dozens of Ethicon power morcellator lawsuits is moving forward. Court documents indicate that discovery is now underway in cases filed on behalf of plaintiffs considered to be “in-extremis,” which includes women who are in dire health condition or near death.
At last 34 morcellator lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, where all such federal claims involving devices manufactured by Ethicon, Inc. have been consolidated for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. All of the cases were filed on behalf of women who allegedly experienced the spread and upstaging of dangerous uterine cancers due to one of the company’s morcellator devices.
According to an Order issued by the Court on January 7th, discovery in cases involving living plaintiffs who are “in extremis” was to begin on or after January 11th.
“A person will be considered ‘in extremis’ when she is expected to reach, within the next twelve months, a state or condition of difficulty in testifying competently in a deposition or being no longer capable of testifying competently in a deposition and is unlikely to recover sufficiently to provide competent testimony at a later date,” the Order states.
Morcellator Cancer Lawsuits
Power morcellators are surgical tools that were once widely used in minimally-invasive hysterectomies and myomectomies (fibroid removal procedures) to cut tissue into small pieces. However, in April 2014, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued an alert that discouraged doctors from using the devices in uterine surgeries because of their potential to disseminate undetected uterine cancer cells. This can cause the disease to progress quickly to its most advanced stage, greatly reducing a woman’s chances for long-term survival.
A second FDA alert released in November 2014 specifically warned against the use of power morcellators in most women who require hysterectomy or myomectomy. The agency also directed Ethicon and other morcellator manufacturers to add a “Black Box” warning to their product labels detailing the potential cancer risk. According to RXInjuryHelp.com, a Black Box warning is the FDA’s strongest safety alert, and is required when a medical product has the potential to cause serious, life-threatening complications.
Ethicon, which actually withdrew its morcellator products from the market in July 2014, is not the only device company facing litigation over the devices. Morcellator cancer lawsuits are also pending against other manufacturers including Karl Storz, Richard Wolf Medical Instruments, and Gyrus ACMI. However, only those involving Ethicon have been centralized in a single federal court.
Women who were diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer following surgery with a power morcellator still have time to file their own lawsuit. To learn more, please call 877-779-1414.