• Power Morcellator Lawsuits Consolidated in Federal MDL
  • November 26, 2015
  • Law Firm: Waters Kraus LLP - Dallas Office
  • Power morcellator lawsuits filed in federal court against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings. The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the Ethicon lawsuits to the federal district court for the District of Kansas. That court, said the panel, is centrally located in the middle of the country and the judge has “a wealth of MDL experience.” The Ethicon morcellator MDL is entitled IN RE: Ethicon, Inc., Power Morcellator Products Liability Litigation.

    Power Morcellator Lawsuits Share Common Issues About Ethicon’s Marketing and Testing

    For years, medical device makers promoted their power morcellators for use in laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies to remove uterine fibroid tumors. In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautioned that morcellators should not be used for most women requiring such surgeries because of the risk of spreading undetected uterine cancer. Ethicon’s power morcellator, which was the market leader at the time, was withdrawn from the market. Many hospitals have greatly limited the use of power morcellators and several insurers now require express pre-approval for any surgery involving a morcellator.

    The recent MDL Order consolidated at least 28 federal morcellator lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit filed in several states, including:
    • Colorado;
    • Florida;
    • Georgia;
    • Kansas;
    • Louisiana;
    • Maryland;
    • New Jersey;
    • New York;
    • Pennsylvania;
    • South Carolina;
    • Tennessee; and
    • Wisconsin.
    The panel noted that all the Ethicon lawsuits involved common issues about Ethicon’s testing and promoting of the power morcellators. In addition, the cases would all raise the same issues about Ethicon’s knowledge of the risks for women undergoing myomectomies and hysterectomies.

    The MDL panel refused, however, to consolidate lawsuits against other power morcellator manufacturers, such as Karl Storz and Gyrus, with the Ethicon power morcellator claims. The issues surrounding different manufacturers’ testing, design and warnings were too different to warrant a mass consolidation involving several defendants.