In December 2015, Tracey & Fox settled a number of Laparoscopic Power Morcellator cases against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, which was the country's largest manufacturer of Laparoscopic Power Morcellators before they discontinued and pulled the devices from the market. According to an article by the Wall Street Journal, lawyers representing patients in the remaining morcellation cases are now alleging that Johnson & Johnson is expected to pay out millions more in compensation.
Tracey & Fox attorneys Sean Tracey and Rebecca King were quoted in the Wall Street Journal article which revealed that Johnson & Johnson has settled a number of legal claims alleging that its Laparoscopic Power Morcellator device is linked to the spread of undetected cancer in as many as one in every 368 women, according to an FDA statistic. The Wall Street Journal reports that out of an estimated 100 cases against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Ethicon, 70 have been settled over the past few months, with more talks ongoing.
That Wall Street Journal noted that Tracey & Fox has at least 40 more morcellator cases pending against other manufacturers. Prior to settling, Tracey & Fox received and reviewed nearly 100,000 documents in discovery from Ethicon and were prepared to move forward with litigation. The firm pushed for a swift resolution for their clients given that many of the women they were representing were critically ill.
"Our highest priority has always been to ensure that this unique group of clients, many of whom may not live to see Christmas 2016, received recompense sooner rather than later."
- Rebecca King, Tracey & Fox
Power morcellators work by taking benign growths called fibroids and cutting them into tiny pieces so that doctors can remove this tissue through a small laparoscopic incision. Touted as a far less invasive method of treatment than a traditional hysterectomy, use of the device was discovered to have been linked with the spread of uterine cancer, which cannot be reliably detected prior to the procedure. According to the FDA, pieces of tissue left behind by the device can spread cancer within the patient's abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient's chances of long-term survival. The U.S. Government Accountability Office is still looking into why the device was allowed to be sold for two decades before the FDA warned that it was linked with the spread of uterine cancer.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Johnson & Johnson has claimed that the device has always come with a warning label cautioning of the potential unsuspected spread of malignant tissue, but the patients' claims against Ethicon allege that the product's design is defective given how difficult it is to distinguish a benign fibroid from a type of cancer known as a sarcoma. Johnson & Johnson suspended sales of the device in April 2014 and withdrew the product from the market three months later.
The amount of compensation being paid in confidential settlements varies depending on such factors as the woman's age, medical condition, and whether she is married and has children.
For more information, please contact Tracey & Fox's Houston office at (713) 495-2333.