First Women Majority MDL Committee — Ethicon Power Morcellator

women led MDL

In October, we saw a multidistrict litigation (MDL) established to consolidate power morcellator lawsuits against Ethicon, a unit of Johnson & Johnson. In November, U.S District Judge Kathryn Vratil of Kansas overseeing the MDL, appointed the first plaintiffs steering committee in multidistrict litigation made up of a majority of women members.

Inspired by Vratil’s own talk at a conference on best practices in MDLs in which she spoke about the lack of women leadership, Paul Pennock, managing attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg, and Aimee Wagstaff, founding partner of Andrus Wagstaff, coordinated the make-up of this committee.

Led by Pennock and Wagstaff, the steering committee approved by Vratil consists of 20 members, 11 of whom are women, including:

  • Anne Andrews, Andrews & Thornton
  • Sindhu Daniel, Baron & Budd
  • Yvonne Flaherty, Lockridge Grindal Nauen
  • Elizabeth Graham, Grant & Eisenhofer
  • Andrea Hirsch, Herman Gerel
  • Rebecca King, Tracey & Fox
  • Megan McKenzie, Robins Kaplan
  • Stephanie O’Connor, Douglas & London
  • Meghan Quinlivan, Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine
  • Carmen Scott, Motley Rice
  • Aimee Wagstaff, Andrus Wagstaff

One member of the committee said with the number of women’s health issues now seen in various mass torts, it is necessary to bring a woman’s perspective to these cases.

Power Morcellator Lawsuits Against Ethicon

Lawsuits against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson allege that power morcellators have caused women to develop an aggressive form of cancer. Power morcellators are medical devices frequently used in laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies. These devices cut large tissue masses into smaller pieces so that it can be removed through the laparoscopic incision site.

Ethicon pulled these devices last year after the FDA issued a safety advisory discouraging the use of these devices.

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