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Judges To Consider Whether to Consolidate Allergan Biocell Breast Implant Lawsuits Next Month

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A panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments early next month over whether to consolidate and centralize all Allergan Biocell breast implant lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system before one judge.

Dozens of women are pursuing claims against the manufacturer of the textured breast implant, over the risk of developing a rare type of cancer in the surrounding tissue, known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

While some individual claims indicate women developed ALCL from the Allergan Biocell breast implants, often resulting in the need for removal of the devices, the litigation also includes class action complaints that seek damages for all women who received the recalled implants, indicating that they will now require medical monitoring for the rest of their lives due to the increased risk of cancer.

Last month, several plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), calling for the consolidation of all Allergan Biocell breast implant cases in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

According to a Notice of Hearing Session (PDF), the JPML is scheduled to consider oral arguments for and against the motion on December 5, at the United States Courthouse in Austin, Texas.

In a response (PDF) filed by Allergan on November 1, the manufacturer indicates that it supports the consolidated management of the cases before one judge, but indicates that the litigation should be sent to New Jersey, where Allegan’s principal place of business is located.

Allergan Breast Implant Recalls

The litigation has emerged after an Allergan Biocell breast implant recall was issued in July, in response to an FDA determination that nearly all cases of BIA-ALCL have been linked to this one type of device.

Over the past few years, there have been concerns about the link between textured breast implants and cancer that may develop in the tissue surrounding certain types of implants.

According to data released by the FDA over the summer, at least 573 known cases of breast implant ALCL have been diagnosed worldwide, including at least 33 deaths. Of those, 481 have been linked to breast implants sold by Allergan, which have been involved in at least 12 of the 13 deaths where the manufacturer of the breast implant was known.

Since the recall, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Allergan over the breast implants, each raising similar allegations that the textured design was unreasonably dangerous and defective.

If the JPML agrees to consolidate the cases into a multidistrict litigation (MDL), all pretrial proceedings would be handled by one judge, but the cases would remain individual lawsuits. If a settlement agreement is not reached, the cases would be transferred back to their originating districts for trial.

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