Johnson & Johnson is moving to settle lawsuits filed by women who say J&J’s power morcellators spread undetected uterine cancer, according to The Wall Street Journal. J&J and its Ethicon division pulled the devices in 2014 following reports which said power morcellators spread uterine cancer when used for hysterectomy or fibroid removal.
100 Morcellator Cases
An estimated 100 cases have either been filed or prepared for lawsuits against J&J and Ethicon, which enjoyed the lion’s share of laparoscopic power morcellator sales. Power morcellator cases have been consolidated in Kansas City, Kan., federal court, before Judge Kathryn H. Vratil. Of the roughly 100 claims, J&J has settled nearly 70 over the past few months, according to the Wall Street Journal.
WSJ estimated that settlements so far have ranged from $100,000 to roughly $1 million, according to a WSJ source who claimed knowledge of resolved cases.
David Matthews, a plaintiff’s lawyer handling power morcellator cases, said the range of settlement amounts reported by WSJ seems low considering the seriousness of the injuries.
“If the amounts reported are right, many of the cases that have settled must have had significant issues. You would tend to think that women who have died or are dying from morcellator injuries would not settle for the small amounts we have seen reported. But it’s always awfully hard to make any generalizations regarding settlement amounts. We don’t know what problems or issues such and such a case may have had to settle for whatever amount is reported. They call these mass torts, but there is never anything ‘en mass’ about them. Every case is always unique.”
Failure to Warn
Women suing J&J underwent hysterectomies or uterine fibroid removal in which surgeons used power morcellators. The women say J&J and Ethicon failed to warn them about the risk that the devices could antagonize and spread undiagnosed uterine cancer, making it more difficult to treat. Several plaintiffs have died before or after the lawsuits were filed; hence, morcellator attorneys are trying to accelerate the litigation to allow clients their chance to air their case in court.
Power morcellators are electric-powered devices with blades that allow surgeons to slice up large pieces of tissue like the uterus or fibroids in order to remove them through small incisions in the abdomen. This “minimally invasive” surgery is supposed to allow for quicker healing time, less blood loss, fewer complications.
Morcellators pulled by J&J
Laparoscopic power morcellators made by Ethicon and several other companies became controversial in 2014 after the FDA released a warning which said 1/350 women had undiagnosed uterine cancer that could be spread by morcellation. One type of cancer, leiomyosarcoma, is especially deadly when morcellated.
After the 2014 FDA warning, J&J, which had the largest percentage of the market, pulled its morcellator devices.
Morcellator lawsuits against J&J and Ethicon claim the devices are defective and that the company knew about the chance of spreading cancer yet failed to warn the public. J&J previously told the Wall Street Journal that its morcellators “have always included cautions in their instructions for use about the potential spread of malignant (or suspected malignant) tissue.”
Morcellator Lawsuit Settlements
Regardless of J&J’s pronouncement that it has always warned of morcellators’ spreading potentially malignant cancer, according to Mr. Matthews, J&J is already in talks to settle more of its morcellator lawsuits, including those it faces in state courts throughout the country.
Free Legal Consultation
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with uterine cancer or leiomyosarcoma after undergoing hysterectomy or fibroid removal with a laparoscopic power morcellator, contact an experienced Morcellator Lawyer for a free legal consultation regarding a potential Morcellator Lawsuit.