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Power morcellator litigation is underway in Kansas

In late 2015, litigation began against various manufacturers of power morcellators in federal court in Kansas. Most of these claims are brought by individuals and surviving family members against Ethicon, Inc., a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Three other companies, Karl Storz, Richard Wolf Medical Instruments Corp. and Gyrus ACMI are named in some of these claims. Each of these companies manufactured power morcellators. Each company faces allegations that they created a defective product, and failed to warn patients of the risks associated with their product.

What are morcellators and when are they used?

The power morcellator grinds body tissue into tiny pieces, allowing for its easy removal. For decades, power morcellators were used to remove uterine fibroids and in hysterectomies. One advantage of the morcellator was that it allowed faster healing. Tragically, for women with undiagnosed uterine cancer, using the morcellator was equivalent to a death sentence. The power morcellator would grind up the cancer and spread it throughout the abdominal cavity. As a result, what was once a localized, treatable cancer would metastasize in a short period of time.

In 2014, the FDA issued a warning against using power morcellators in hysterectomies and uterine fibroid removal procedures. Unfortunately, by the time the FDA issued this warning, many women died of upstaged uterine cancer. Making these tragedies worse is the fact that the makers of power morcellators knew or should have known of the problems associated with upstaged cancer. There were numerous studies in the 1990s and 2000s that demonstrated the perils of using the morcellator for women with undiagnosed cancer.

What is the current state of morcellator litigation?

In 2014 and 2015, families across the United States filed suit against the makers of morcellators, alleging design defects and failure to warn. In December 2015, these claims were centralized and brought to the U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, in Kansas City. Senior Judge Kathryn H. Vratil is hearing this case, known as Ethicon, Inc., Power Morcellator Products Liability Litigation. Currently, Judge Vratil is overseeing more than 30 cases, and transferring other cases across the United States to her courtroom. Currently, the parties are conducting discovery. In multidistrict litigation (MDL) involves one judge hearing multiple claims with similar sets of facts. Unlike class action cases, in MDL each plaintiff will get his or her opportunity to prove their damages.

Families continue to join this litigation. If you have lost a loved one due to upstaged cancer caused by a morcellator, or if your cancer has been upstaged due to a morcellator, a lawyer can be instrumental in protecting your rights. For years, the lawyers of Fay Law Group, P.A., have provided exceptional representation to individuals and families.

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