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A request has been filed to consolidate all lawsuits filed in New Jersey state court over the Alloderm skin graft hernia patch, which has caused dozens of plaintiffs to suffer infections, abscesses and other side effects.
At least 25 Alloderm lawsuits are currently filed throughout the state, and more complaints are expected, according to an Application for Mass Tort Designation [PDF] filed by plaintiffs with the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The product liability lawsuits allege that LifeCell, the manufacturer of Alloderm, designed a defective product and failed to warn the plaintiffs about the risk of problems from Alloderm or the true nature of the skin grafts.
Alloderm is a skin graft product harvested from cadavers and stripped of the original cells to ensure that recipients do not reject it. They are used in hernia repairs, breast reconstruction and replacement of skin following severe burns and injuries. One of the claims by plaintiffs is that they are typically not informed of the nature of the skin grafts until after they have been implanted.
According to the lawsuits, plaintiffs have suffered a number of different Alloderm side effects, including hernia mesh problems, infections, abscesses, bruising, swelling, recurrence of hernias and other problems that have sometimes required additional surgeries to replace or repair the Alloderm grafts.
Similar to how an Alloderm class action lawsuit may be handled, a mass tort designation in New Jersey would centralize all cases filed in the state court system before one judge for pretrial proceedings in order to avoid duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings. However, unlike a class action, the claims would remain individual lawsuits for purposes of determining damages and each claim would be judged independently at trial.
Plaintiffs have requested that the mass tort and centralized management be overseen by Judge Carol E. Higbee in Atlantic County, where 11 of the claims have already been filed.