Power Morcellator Lawsuit
A manufacturer uses intimidation and threats of legal action against a uterine cancer victim; a global health giant voluntarily recalls a profitable product because it’s too dangerous; insurance companies refuse to cover the procedure while US Senators plead for a recall because of its inordinate risk to women.
The procedure is laparoscopic power morcellation and the product is a power morcellator, a device that allows doctors to remove uterine fibroids by cutting them into small pieces and extracting them through a small abdominal incision. Recent morcellator lawsuits allege that the cutting up or morcellation of the fibroids has allowed undiagnosed cancer cells in the uterus to spread to other parts of the body.
Medical device manufacturers pay large settlements to people who are injured by defective products or procedures like power morcellation. If you have had a hysterectomy or had uterine fibroids removed through morcellation and have since been diagnosed with uterine cancer, the product liability lawyers at The Sanders Firm are prepared to fight for your rights to compensation for your anguish and injury.
Power morcellators spread undiagnosed cancer cells
Concern has risen in recent years that the use of power morcellators in hysterectomies and fibroid removal procedures could cause the spread of undiagnosed cancer cells. In April 2014, the FDA took the public step of urging doctors to stop using power morcellators for fibroid removal, given that there are safer surgical and non-surgical alternatives. Traditional vaginal and abdominal hysterectomies, drug therapy, and high-intensity ultrasound, among other techniques, do not carry the risk of spreading cancer cells.
The agency took further steps this summer by convening two advisory committees to further study the safety of power morcellators. After only two days of hearings, the committees’ determination was that there was no way to make power morcellator use safe.
The FDA went on record in a safety communication saying that the “distribution of cancer cells in the abdomen and pelvis can significantly worsen the woman’s chances of long-term survival.”
To their credit, Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary which controls 80% of the power morcellator industry announced they were exiting the morcellation business due to safety concerns.
Legal expertise from morcellation cancer lawyers
Personal injury/product liability litigation is far too complex to consider filing a morcellation cancer lawsuit without the resources of skilled personal injury attorneys like The Sanders Firm. Our in-house medical consultants and support staff will help you gather the necessary evidence to prove your case.
If you are suffering from uterine cancer because of power morcellation, you will need to prove that:
- the defendant owed you a duty of care
- that duty was breached by the defendant
- that breach of duty caused injury to you, the plaintiff
- you suffered injuries
Since the bulk of all personal injury cases result in a settlement, the following can help you estimate the size of potential compensation if you prevail in your morcellation cancer lawsuit:
- Severity of injuries
- Plaintiff’s degree of fault (if any)
- Insurance limits
- Past, present and future medical bills
- Lost income
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Uterine fibroid surgery cancer lawsuits filed
Two morcellation cancer lawsuits were filed recently in federal court alleging that the lack of warnings of the spread of uterine cancer caused by morcellation led to severe personal injury in one and death in the other.
In one case filed by Lisa Neilsen and her husband in California, the plaintiffs allege that the Defendant Gyrus ACMI, maker of the Gyrus bipolar morcellator, caused Ms. Nielsen’s undiagnosed cancer to spread throughout her abdomen.
In the second case, a wrongful death complaint was filed by the family of Patricia Daley alleging that power morcellators manufactured by Ethicon and Karl Storz were deployed in a robotic hysterectomy which ultimately led to Ms. Daley’s leiomyosarcoma.
In both cases, the allegation was similar—the manufacturers made and sold a dangerous product, and they failed to warn the public and the medical community of the risks of uterine cancer by using their products.
Insurance companies take a stand against morcellation
On August 19, US Senators Kristin Gillibrand and Charles Schumer wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging the FDA to recall power morcellators, requesting that “… manufacturers of laparoscopic morcellation devices withdraw their equipment from the market until additional risk assessments and patient and clinician education can be performed”.
On September 18, following the action of Highmark, Inc., the first major health insurance company to stop covering the procedure, Capital Blue Cross announced it will no longer pay for laparoscopic hysterectomy morcellation procedures as of November 1. Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer of Capital Blue Cross said, “ As a leading health insurer, we are counted on to help safeguard the health of those entrusted to us, which is why we are no longer providing coverage for procedures involving power morcellator.”
Despite all efforts to spur the FDA to recall power morcellators, the agency’s stance is to still say it hasn’t decided what course of action to take—a recall or further warnings.
Study highlights power morcellation cancer risks
On September 24, the Journal of the American Medical Association published findings by a group of Columbia researchers which found that 27 out of every 10,000 women who undergo morcellation to remove uterine fibroids have undiagnosed cancer which can then spread throughout the body as a result of the procedure.
Not surprisingly, enterprising companies like German manufacturer Karl Storz GmbH & Co. and others rushed to fill the market vacuum created by Johnson & Johnson’s exit from the morcellation business.
Two Boston physicians, cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Hooman Noorchashm, and his wife, Dr. Amy Reed, have been railing against the risks of uterine cancer and its spread through the use of power morcellators. He filed an online petition to recall power morcellators which now has 80,000 signatures since his wife was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma following laparoscopic surgey using a Karl Storz Rotocut morcellator.
That action aroused the wrath of the attorneys at Karl Storz who threatened Dr. Noorchashm with legal action if he continued to implicate Karl Storz in his wife’s cancer or any other woman’s cancer. They claim that Dr. Noorchashm and his wife are “defaming the device and /or Karl Storz management”.
Advice for filing a personal injury lawsuit
If you have been diagnosed with cancer following a power morcellation procedure, it is vital that you seek legal counsel immediately and protect your rights. In certain states, injury victims must file a uterine fibroid surgery cancer lawsuit in a certain period of time or risk losing the opportunity to secure compensation for their injuries.
Call our offices today for a free, no-obligation consultation at 1.800.FAIR.PLAY. Our morcellation cancer lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we only collect a fee if you reach a settlement or win your personal injury lawsuit.
- New York Times, A Surgical Procedure’s Risks, Unmentioned http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/17/a-surgical-procedures-risks-unmentioned/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
- Fred Hutch, The Cure Starts Here, https://www.fredhutch.org/en/news/center-news/2014/07/Controversial-morcellation-procedure-fibroids-spread-cancer.html
- The Advisory Board Company, JAMA: We May Have Underestimated the Risks of Morcellation http://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2014/07/29/jama-we-may-have-underestimated-the-risks-of-morcellation