A new product liability lawsuit has been brought against Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary, by a woman who alleges that the company’s Gynecare power morcellator caused her undiagnosed uterine cancer to spread throughout her body during a laparoscopic hysterectomy. The power morcellation lawsuit was filed by Babette Davis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on January 27, and alleges that Ethicon failed to disclose the risk of leiomyosarcoma cancer being spread by power morcellators used during hysterectomy and myomectomy (uterine fibroid removal) surgeries. Contact a reputable attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have been harmed by side effects of power morcellation, to discuss your options for legal recourse.
According to Babette Davis’ claim, she underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy in November 2008, during which Ethicon’s Gynecare power morcellator was used to cut up and remove her uterus through a small incision in the abdomen. A biopsy of the removed tissue was found to contain leiomyosarcoma cancer cells, which doctors were unable to detect prior to the surgery, and Davis alleges in her lawsuit that power morcellation caused a rapid dissemination of the aggressive uterine cancer. As a result of the leiomyosarcoma cancer being spread throughout her body, Davis underwent multiple cycles of chemotherapy, but the following year, it was discovered that the cancer had spread when three large masses were detected in her abdomen and pelvis.
Power morcellators have become a popular method for cutting up and removing uterine fibroids, used by hospitals and doctors across the country during hysterectomy and myomectomy procedures. However, serious concerns have been raised recently about the potential for power morcellation to significantly upstage undiagnosed uterine cancer by spreading cancerous tissue throughout the body. In Davis’ case, “Plaintiff continues to suffer from abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and takes oral chemotherapy to treat the life-threatening cancer that use of Defendant’s Gynecare Laparoscopic Power Morcellator caused to disseminate in her body. Had the Laparoscopic Power Morcellator used on Plaintiff not disseminated her leiomyosarcoma, Plaintiff would not have suffered and continued to suffer these symptoms.”
In November 2014, the FDA issued a safety communication warning that, “If laparoscopic power morcellation is performed in women with unsuspected uterine sarcoma, there is a risk that the procedure will spread the cancerous tissue within the abdomen and pelvis, significantly worsening the patient’s long-term survival.” In light of this serious risk, the FDA at that time advised against “the use of laparoscopic power morcellators in the majority of women undergoing myomectomy or hysterectomy for treatment of fibroids.” According to the FDA, approximately one in 350 women undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy procedures have unsuspected uterine sarcoma, and there is currently no reliable method for detecting this cancer prior to surgery.
Babette Davis’ claim joins a growing number of product liability lawsuits filed over alleged side effects of power morcellators, and all of the complaints involve similar allegations that the makers of power morcellator devices failed to provide adequate warnings about the potential for power morcellation to spread cancerous tissues throughout the body during surgery. In October 2015, all power morcellation lawsuits pending in the federal court system were centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil in the District of Kansas. If you underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy or myomectomy procedure where power morcellation was used, and you have since been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma cancer, consult an experienced product liability lawyer today to discuss filing a claim against the device manufacturing company.
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