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Morcellator MDL Centralizes Lawsuits in Kansas

October 15, 2015 — A panel of federal judges have centralized all federal lawsuits involving laparoscopic power morcellators in the District of Kansas (MDL No. 2652) under Judge Kathryn H. Vratil.

An order (PDF) issued today by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-district Litigation (JPML) centralized 20 lawsuits against Ethicon, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

The JPML decided not to create an industry-wide litigation that would also centralize lawsuits against Karl Storz, Richard Wolf Medical Instruments, and Gyrus ACMI.

All of the lawsuits accuse device-makers of failing to adequately warn that morcellators can disseminate undiagnosed uterine cancer. Plaintiffs claim morcellators are defectively designed and should have been sold with surgical bags to contain cancerous tissues.

The JPML noted that most lawsuits also ask “what Ethicon knew about that risk and when.”

Ethicon commanded 72% of the market for power morcellators in 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal. In April 2014, Ethicon pulled morcellators off the market after the FDA warned that they should not be used in hysterectomies or fibroid surgeries.

Doctors have long known that morcellators can spread cancer. Before the FDA warning, most assumed the risk was low. In the general population, only 1 in 10,000 women has un-diagnosed uterine cancer.

However, women who need a hysterectomy aren’t the “general population” — they often have uterine pain or bleeding, which are also signs of cancer. According to the FDA, 1 in 350 women who gets a hysterectomy also has un-diagnosed cancer.

The risk of spreading cancer can be minimized by using a surgical bag to contain tissues. The bags were routinely used with hand-powered morcellators. When Ethicon introduced electric-powered morcellators in the 1990s, doctors stopped using bags because they were too cumbersome.

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The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting power morcellator induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Medical Device Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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