Our team of uterine cancer lawyers report on a settlement recently reached between a power morcellator manufacturer and a man whose wife died from uterine cancer. The woman died less than one year after undergoing a hysterectomy using a power morcellator.
The plaintiff, a 53-year-old widower named Scott Burkhart, filed suit against Lina Medical ApS after he learned that the power morcellator used during his wifes hysterectomy caused her hidden cancer to fatally spread. His wife, Donna, died in 2013 just 11 months after undergoing the hysterectomy for heavy bleeding. She was unaware she had cancerous cells before undergoing the surgery.
In 2014, the FDA issued a warning to patients and doctors on the risk of spreading undetected cancer during power morcellator surgeries. Power morcellators are medical tools commonly used during hysterectomies or myomectomies (surgeries to remove uterine fibroids). These devices are used during minimally-invasive, laparoscopic surgeries, which are recommended to women who are looking for shorter recovery times and less scarring.
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Unfortunately, what makes power morcellators minimally invasive also causes it to spread undetected cancer. The drill-shaped device uses a rotating blade to slice internal tissue, so it can be removed through a very small incision in the abdomen. When the blades cut the tissue, it can disturb hidden cancer cells and spread them throughout the uterine cavity.
The FDA recently estimated that about one in every 350 women who undergo power morcellation surgery have undetected cancer cells. Now, thousands of women diagnosed with uterine cancer after morcellation surgeries are filing suit against the companies that made these dangerous devices.
One such company, Lina Medical ApS, was hit with a Burkharts lawsuit in March 2014. His lawsuit was expected to reach trial later in 2015, the first among more than 20 similar suits against Lina Medical. Rather than going to trial, Lina decided to settle with Burkhart in an undisclosed amount.
Burkhart and other morcellator plaintiffs claim that the company failed to warn about the possibility that its device could spread cancer. Burkhart told reporters that his main intention in filing this suit was to make others aware of the cancer risks.
Johnson & Johnson Pull All Morcellators from Global Markets
Over the past year or so, since the first reports of cancer spread were released, power morcellators have fallen out of favor in the U.S. The largest morcellator manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, recently announced it was removing all three versions of its morcellator device from hospitals worldwide. This was likely spurred by the FDAs action to include its most severe warning on the devices and recommending that they not be used in any gynecological surgeries.
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The outcry has extended beyond government and manufacturing as well. Senators, hospitals, and insurers have all denounced the power morcellator. You can read more about this here and here. Unfortunately, not all surgeons have stopping using the device. Even the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) released a reportstating it believed morcellation was safe.
It is important to note, however, that the AAGLs president receives funding from a morcellator manufacturer. He has received no less than $50,000 in the past year for consulting services for Blue Endo, which sells power morcellators. Several of AAGLs former presidents have also received considerable funding from morcellator manufacturers.
Our team of power morcellator lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm is now accepting cases of uterine cancer from hysterectomies and myomectomies. If you or someone you love was diagnosed with cancer after undergoing a gynecological procedure, contact our firm immediately for a free case review. We accept clients nationwide, and never charge any attorneys fees unless we win you a settlement or verdict.