Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - The first settlement of a power morcellator lawsuit has been announced as LiNA Medical has agreed to a deal with Scott Burkhart, one of the first plaintiffs to file a lawsuit relating to power morcellators in U.S. district court. The settlement amount will remain confidential and resolve the claim that was scheduled to head to trial in November. The lawsuit was one of roughly 20 recently filed in a motion to transfer cases related to power morcellator use to multidistrict litigation.
The lawsuit brought against LiNA Medical by Burkhart claimed that the power morcellator device contributed to the untimely death of his wife in 2014. Following a surgical procedure that employed a power morcellator, Burkart‘s wife contracted uterine cancer and passed away less than a year later. The lawsuit claimed that the power morcellator had contributed to the quick and deadly spread of the disease, and that its use in medical procedures should have been better researched for possible risks involved with the device.
The power morcellator is used by surgeons to remove small tissues during uterine surgical procedures. They are employed to make the surgeries simpler and less invasive. However, it has been discovered that power morcellators also have to ability to spread localized cancer cells throughout the uterus, accelerating the development and severity of the disease. The FDA released its first warning related to the dangerous elements of power morcellators in April of 2014, and later noted that roughly 1 in 350 women were likely to have undiagnosed uterine cancer that had the possibility of being spread and intensified if subjected to a morcellator‘s use in surgery.
A series of power morcellator lawsuits, which were recently involved in a motion to transfer the cases to multidistrict litigation, have been filed against medical device company after research demonstrated the devices ability to spread cancer cells while being used in fibroid and hysterectomy surgeries. The most common complication related to power morcellators is the spread of uterine cancer. The lawsuits claim that the manufacturers of the power morcellators failed to warn customers of the cancer risk associated with the procedure, which allegedly led to numerous patients developing uterine cancer as a result of their procedure involving the device.
The remaining lawsuits have requested their cases to be consolidated to the District of Kansas federal court. Roughly 20 lawsuits were involved in the motion to transfer, although more are expected to join in as news of the serious consequences of morcellator use spreads. Roughly used in 60,000 procedures at its peak, power morcellators are now in sharp decline with their leading manufacturer Johnson & Johnson no longer producing the devices as of July 2014.
Lawyers representing plaintiffs in the power morcellator cases before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation for consolidation claim that up to 300 additional cases relating to the cancerous side effects of power morcellators are currently moving towards filing suit against the device‘s manufacturers. The Federal Bureau of Investigations has also opened its own investigation into whether the device manufacturers were aware of the risk of cancerous agitation related to the power morcellators before they were sold for use in hospitals.