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Attorneys involved in Allergan Biocell breast implant lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system will meet next week with the U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the litigation.
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, due to a risk the design may cause women to develop a rare type of cancer in the surrounding tissue, which is now known as breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL).
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.
On January 7, Judge Martinotti issued an initial case management order (PDF), indicating Allergan Biocell breast implant lawyers will have an opportunity to meet with the court during an initial conference on Monday, January 13.
Lawyers involved in the litigation have been directed to familiarize themselves with the MDL proceedings and to be prepared “to suggest procedures that will facilitate the expeditions, economical, and just resolution of this litigation, including but not limited to procedure for selecting lead counsel, liaison counsel, and chairs of certain committees and subcommittees,” according to the order.
Judge Martinotti advised the parties to also meet and confer beforehand, in order to try to reach consensus on as many issues as possible, such as the conference agenda, fact sheets, discovery plans, and other procedures.
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.