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Lina Medical Agrees to Settle Power Morcellator Lawsuit

Power Morcellator Hysterectomy

Scott Burkhart, who had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lina Medical, has agreed to accept a settlement pertaining to power morcellator usage and the spread of cancer. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed. In accepting the settlement, the plaintiff agreed to drop his lawsuit against the defendant, whom he had contended was responsible for the allegedly unreasonably dangerous nature of power morcellators. The trial had been set for November 2015.

Use of power morcellation

Power morcellators are surgical instruments that were routinely used during hysterectomy procedures in which the surgeon uses a minimally invasive approach, also known as a laparoscopic approach. In this type of surgery, the surgeon creates multiple small incisions, rather than one large incision. This means that the uterus and other reproductive organs must be divided into small pieces so that the surgeon can remove them through the small incisions.

Power morcellators are the tools surgeons use to accomplish this. Surgeons may also use power morcellators during surgery to remove uterine fibroids.
However, safety concerns have recently come to light regarding these medical instruments.

Advocates calling for a ban on these devices say that they can spread in situ cancer cells well beyond their point of origin, effectively turning early stage cancer into advanced stage cancer. This has grave consequences for a cancer patient’s prognosis. Advanced stage cancer is much more difficult to treat and patients have drastically lower survival rates.

Lawsuits over power morcellators contend that about one in every 350 women undergoing these procedures have undiagnosed sarcoma, a type of cancer. The late Donna Burkhart was allegedly unaware that she had leiomyosarcoma before she underwent a hysterectomy, which used power morcellation. She had the surgery on March 6, 2012, at which point there was no apparent evidence of cancer in her body. However, she was diagnosed with cancer on March 15. As a result of metastatic cancer, she died on February 2, 2013 at the age of 53.

Before accepting the settlement offer for his lawsuit alleging that power morcellation spread his wife’s cancer, Burkhart contended that Lina Medical failed to conduct appropriate product tests, and failed to warn consumers and healthcare professionals of the potential risks.

Other power morcellator lawsuits may be centralized

A growing number of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits with regard to the spread of cancer by power morcellators. This particular settlement is believed to be among the first; however, other settlement offers may be forthcoming. As more lawsuits continue to be filed, a group of plaintiffs has filed a petition with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). They request that the JPML form a multidistrict litigation (MDL) to centralize power morcellator lawsuits for the purposes of streamlining pretrial proceedings.

The plaintiffs have requested that U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil manage the MDL in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The defendant manufacturers were expected to respond to the petition for centralization by July 10, 2015 and a hearing session for oral arguments pertaining to the centralization is scheduled for October.

  1. The Wall Street Journal, Lawsuit Over Hysterectomy Tool Settled,

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