Power Morcellators Lawsuits
Many women are filing lawsuits against power morcellator manufacturers for failing to fully disclose the risks of the devices spreading cancer.
Why File a Power Morcellator Lawsuit?
Power morcellators are medical devices used to remove uterine fibroids, which are growths that commonly occur on the surface of the uterus. Although fibroids are usually benign, some can carry undetected cancer. Power morcellators tear these fibroids apart and may spread any existing cancerous cells.
Women diagnosed with uterine cancer after a hysterectomy or myomectomy with a power morcellator are filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of these devices. While many file personal injury claims, some widowed husbands are filing wrongful death claims in their spouse’s names.
Many of these women were diagnosed with late stage cancer because the morcellator spread the cancer throughout their abdomen. There are three main types of uterine cancer that power morcellators can worsen, including:
- Endometrial stromal sarcoma
- Undifferentiated sarcoma
Filing a lawsuit can help you get compensation for the financial and emotional hardships of a cancer diagnosis. A settlement can also help cover medical expenses, so you can afford the best cancer treatment possible.
Who Is Responsible for Power Morcellator Complications?
Plaintiffs hold the manufacturers of power morcellators responsible for knowing the risks of these devices. Johnson & Johnson (J&J), through its subsidiary Ethicon, was the largest manufacturer of power morcellators before they recalled their products.
There are many other power morcellator manufacturers that may be held accountable in a court of law for the dangers of their products.
When the dangers of power morcellators became clear, J&J came under scrutiny from the government and the public for marketing and dispensing their devices. Government agencies took J&J to task as the main producer of power morcellators, which is highlighted in personal injury lawsuits.
The FDA Places “Black-box” Warning on Power Morcellators
In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed a black-box warning on all laparoscopic power morcellators – the strongest warning for medical devices and medications. Additionally, the FDA has rejected power morcellators in favor of traditional hysterectomies that keep cancerous material confined to the uterus. The agency deemed the devices’ risks greater than the benefits based on revealing statistics.
It’s estimated that 1 in 350 women who undergo a hysterectomy or myomectomy with a power morcellator have some form of uterine sarcoma, including leiomyosarcoma. The FDA also stated that approximately 50,000 hysterectomies each year involve a morcellator. By these numbers, roughly 143 women annually could have had undetected cancer made worse by power morcellation.
Another study by Columbia University found that 1 in 368 women undergoing hysterectomies have undetected uterine cancer, which helps back up the FDA’s estimates.
Johnson & Johnson Voluntary Recall
After the FDA placed the black-box warning on power morcellators, Johnson & Johnson stopped selling the products. Shortly after, the company voluntarily pulled their power morcellators off the market.
In 2011, J&J produced approximately 72 percent of the power morcellators on the market. Their decision to pull such a lucrative product is indicative of the risks posed by the devices.
FBI Investigation of Johnson & Johnson
J&J came under further fire in May of 2015 when the Federal Bureau of Investigation started looking into the company’s marketing practices. The FBI suspected that J&J knew the risks of power morcellators since 2006.
According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, one doctor from a small hospital in Pennsylvania contacted Ethicon about the risks of power morcellators in 2006. He shared his concerns about power morcellators spreading cancer eight years before the FDA issued its warning. In light of information released by the FDA and the FBI many women began filing legal complaints.
Power Morcellator Litigation
Power morcellator lawsuits target device manufacturers for releasing products that the companies allegedly knew could spread cancer. Some of the prominent issues pointed out in legal complaints include:
- Failing to fully inform consumers of the risks of surgeries that use a power morcellator
- Putting a product on the market without proper testing
- Concealing knowledge of power morcellator risks from the FDA
As more women who were diagnosed with cancer after a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy with a power morcellator come forward, an MDL could start forming.As of July 2015, power morcellator lawsuits have started transitioning to multidistrict litigation (MDL)
Getting an Attorney Who Knows Power Morcellators
Uterine cancer is rare and hard to detect but unnecessary and unsafe procedures prompted many women to file lawsuits. These claims were filed against the manufacturers of power morcellators for failing to disclose the risks associated with these devices.
If you or a loved one had cancer worsen as a result of a power morcellator surgery, you may be eligible for legal compensation. A lawsuit may provide compensation for any of your medical expenses and lost wages. Financial compensation can also help you get better cancer treatment.
It’s important to hire an attorney who has experience taking cases against large pharmaceutical companies like J&J.
Last Edited: October 31, 2017
- FDA. (2014). FDA warns against using laparoscopic power morcellators to treat uterine fibroids. July 2016. http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm424435.htm
- Ellisa Harrington. (2015). FBI INVESTIGATING JOHNSON & JOHNSON DEVICE THAT MAY SPREAD UTERINE CANCER. July 2016. http://abc7news.com/health/fbi-investigating-medical-device-that-may-spread-cancer/745936/
- JENNIFER LEVITZ. (2015). FBI Is Investigating Hysterectomy Device Found to Spread Uterine Cancer. July 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/fbi-is-investigating-surgical-device-1432746641
- United States District Court Western District of New York. (2014). Leuzzi Complaint. July 2016. http://www.aboutlawsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2014-05-01-Luezzi-Complaint.pdf
- American Cancer Society. (2014). What is uterine sarcoma? July 2016. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/uterinesarcoma/detailedguide/uterine-sarcoma-what-is-uterine-sarcoma
- KAMP, LEVITZ. (2014). Johnson & Johnson Pulls Hysterectomy Device From Hospitals. July 2016. http://www.wsj.com/articles/johnson-johnson-to-call-for-voluntary-return-of-morcellators-1406754350