July 6, 2015 — A lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who died from uterine cancer after she was treated with a morcellator has ended in an undisclosed settlement before it could go to trial, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The lawsuit was filed by Scott Burkhart, a man from Pennsylvania whose wife, Donna, died from leiomyosarcoma in February 2013, eleven months after a morcellator was used in her hysterectomy.
Mr. Burkhart accused Lina Medical of failing to warn that power morcellators can spread and worsen undiagnosed uterine cancer. The lawsuit was filed in March 2014 and expected to go to trial later this year. About two dozen other lawsuits are still pending in federal and state courtrooms around the nation.
The number of lawsuits continues to grow at a steady pace. On June 18, another wrongful death lawsuit was filed by Rick Kaitz, a lawyer whose wife died about a year and a half after undergoing a hysterectomy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
According to a recent filing with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), law firms are investigating about 300 potential cases and seeking to consolidate the litigation into one federal court.
Concern has been growing about the cancer-spreading risks associated with morcellators for years. Once used in over 60,000 procedures per year, the popularity of the surgical tools declined significantly after the FDA warned against using them in the “vast majority” of women during hysterectomies and fibroid surgeries.
The problem is that about 1 in 350 women who needs a hysterectomy for fibroids has undiagnosed uterine cancer. Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturer of morcellators, pulled all of their products off the market in July 2014.
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