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Storz Morcellator Lawsuit Alleges Wrongful Death of South Carolina Woman

gavel and scale of justiceOn April 10, 2015, the grieving son of a recent victim of uterine cancer filed a personal injury and wrongful death action against several defendants, alleging excessively unreasonable misconduct and the failure to properly warn the victim of the dangers of morcellation. The lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court for the District of South Carolina, names Karl Storz Endoscopy-America, Inc., Karl Storz Endovision, Inc., and Karl Storz GMBH & Co. KG as defendants in the matter.

The plaintiff is seeking compensation for the medical expenses, lost wages, and conscious pain and suffering experienced by the victim prior to her death, which occurred just one year following her exposure to morcellation.

Background of allegations against Storz, et al.

Filing on behalf of his late mother, the plaintiff alleges a series of factual assertions pointing to the Storz Morcellator as the proximate cause of the victim’s premature death. In May, 2011, the decedent underwent a surgical procedure to remove suspicious fibroid tissue that was forming on her uterus and broad ligament. The surgeon performed two removal techniques, known as a supra-cervical hysterectomy and a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, utilizing the Storz Morcellator during both procedures.

A power morcellator is a medical device used in minimally-invasive procedures wherein a surgeon opts to cut apart reproductive tissue prior to its removal through a laparoscopic incision. During this process, the morcellator is alleged to cause the dissemination of microscopic bits of biological debris into other areas of the abdomen. For surgical patients with undiagnosed uterine cancer, this toxic debris can lead to the rapid spread of dangerous cancer cells into other organ systems.

In this case, the plaintiff alleges that the surgeon’s use of the Storz Morcellator caused cancerous tissue to disseminate into his mother’s abdomen, leading to a diagnosis of adenosarcoma and sarcomatous overgrowth just six days after her uterine fibroid surgery. Tragically, despite valiant efforts to fight her condition through radiation treatments, the victim succumbed to her cancer on April 13, 2012.

Causes of action involving negligence, failure to warn

At the crux of his complaint, the plaintiff alleges that the manufacturer of the Storz Morcellator was under a strict duty to warn patients and practitioners of the dangers of power morcellation when treating uterine fibroids – which it failed to do. In addition, the plaintiff asserts that, but for the surgeon’s use of the Storz Morcellator, the decedent’s cancer would have remained “well-confined to the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes,” and would not have spread throughout her body as it did.

Overall, the plaintiff raised 13 causes of action against Storz and its subsidiaries, including:

  • Negligence
  • Defective manufacturing
  • Defective design
  • Failure to warn patients of the dangers of power morcellation
  • Strict liability
  • Breach of implied warranty
  • Personal injury against the decedent
  • Breach of express warranty
  • Negligent & fraudulent misrepresentation
  • Fraud by concealment
  • Wrongful death
  • Pain and suffering as a survivor under South Carolina’s Survivor Statute

In addition, the Storz morcellator lawsuit alleges the appropriateness of punitive damages, which are generally reserved for more egregious, intentional misconduct. Within this context, the allegations center on the defendants’ knowledge of the problems associated with power morcellation, the ongoing concealment of the risks, the misrepresentation of power morcellators as safe, and the fraudulent marketing campaigns touting power morcellators as an effective alternative to more invasive abdominal surgery.

  1., Power morcellation and occult malignancy in gynecologic surgery,

  2., Laparoscopic Uterine Power Morcellation in Hysterectomy and Myomectomy: FDA Safety Communication,