Breast Implant Lawyers Appointed To Leadership, Steering and Settlement Committees in MDL

The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Allergan Biocell breast implant lawsuits has appointed a group of 26 plaintiffs lawyers to serve in various leadership roles during the litigation, taking actions on behalf of all women who are pursuing claims over the risk that the textured breast implant design may cause a rare form of cancer, known as breast implant associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).

Dozens of women are pursuing product liability and class action lawsuits over the Allergan Biocell textured breast implants, which were removed from the market last year after federal regulators confirmed that the design was linked to most reported cases of cancer that develops in the tissue surrounding the implants.

In addition to individual claims for women who developed ALCL from Allergan Biocell breast implants, often resulting in the need for removal of the devices, the litigation also includes complaints that seek class action status to pursue 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.

Given similar questions of fact and law presented in complaints filed in District Courts nationwide, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) decided last month to consolidated the claims before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the District of New Jersey, to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on February 25, Judge Martinotti assigned five attorneys to serve as Co-Lead Counsel, one to serve as Liaison Counsel, seven to serve on the Executive Committee, 14 to serve on a Steering Committee and two who will be part of a breast implant settlement committee.

Attorneys appointed to these various roles will perform tasks during the discovery process and pretrial litigation, including arguing motions before the Court, taking depositions of common witnesses, reviewing discovery documents, negotiating with the manufacturer and other actions. However, each plaintiff will still maintain their own breast implant lawyer to represent their specific interests in the claim against Allergan.

Allergan Breast Implant Recalls

The litigation has emerged after an Allergan Biocell breast implant recall was issued in July 2019, 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, there has been a sharp rise in the number of lawsuits filed against Allergan over the breast implants, each raising similar allegations that the textured design was unreasonably dangerous and defective.

The decision to consolidate the cases means all pretrial proceedings will be handled by one judge, but the cases will remain individual lawsuits. If a breast implant settlement agreement is not reached while the cases are pending before Judge Martinotti, each claim may later be transferred back to its originating District Court for trial.

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