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In an October 15, 2015 Order, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided to consolidate 15 federally filed power morcellator lawsuits for coordinated pretrial proceedings, transferring the cases to the District of Kansas under the Honorable Kathryn H. Vratil.
The JPML found “that the actions in this litigation naming Ethicon as a defendant involve common questions of fact, and that centralization of these actions in the District of Kansas will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation.”
An MDL, a multidistrict litigation, is a legal procedure that allows courts to consolidate lawsuits filed across the country for pretrial proceedings. This centralization eliminates duplicative discovery on common issues, avoids conflicting rulings, and is a more efficient process.
According to the Transfer Order, the JPML agreed “with Ethicon and other parties that an industry-wide MDL is not appropriate.”
The litigation, now renamed as IN RE: Ethicon, Inc., Power Morcellator Products Liability Litigation, includes the following defendants:
Power morcellators are medical devices frequently used in laparoscopic hysterectomies and myomectomies (removal of uterine fibroids). These devices cut large tissue masses into smaller pieces so that it can be removed through a laparoscopic incision site.
Unfortunately, an estimated one in 350 women that undergo this type of procedure has undetected uterine sarcoma, a form of cancer affecting the muscle and supporting tissue of the uterus. In these cases, power morcellators cut up cancerous tissue, spreading cancerous cells to other parts of the body thereby reducing the life expectancy of the patient.
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