January 17, 2013 – This week, the number of lawsuits filed in New Jersey state court over LifeCell Corporation’s controversial AlloDerm product surpassed 300, with nearly 10% of the complaints entered in the last 45 days. Originally approved in the early 1990’s for use with burn victims and for select dental procedures, the AlloDerm Regenerative Tissue Matrix has since been aggressively marketed off-label for hernia surgery and abdominal repairs. When used for these purposes, AlloDerm has been linked to severe abdominal pain, infections, inflammation, injury to nearby organs, and other serious side effects.
What’s the problem?
In the New Jersey state court system, all product liability lawsuits involving AlloDerm filed throughout the state have been consolidated into a Multi-County Litigation (MCL) for pretrial proceedings before Judge Jessica R. Mayer in Middlesex County. Such consolidation is intended to avoid duplicative discovery, discourage conflicting rulings from different judges, and to serve the convenience of all parties involved in the litigation. As of this week, there were at least 304 AlloDerm hernia mesh lawsuits pending in the MCL.
While the first such claims were filed over 18 months ago, there has been a dramatic increase in AlloDerm lawsuits in recent weeks, with more than 30 complaints filed since December 1, 2012. All of the suits involve similar allegations that LifeCell failed to provide proper instructions for using AlloDerm during hernia repair or abdominal surgeries. Due to this alleged negligence, many patients have experienced serious complications following surgical procedures with AlloDerm, which have been reported to include abdominal pain, infections, injury to nearby organs, adhesion failure, hernia recurrence, and other severe side effects.
Furthermore, AlloDerm lawsuits claim that LifeCell knew – or should have known – that the graft should be pre-stretched before use during abdominal or hernia surgeries. However, the company sold AlloDerm products for years without warning the public or medical communities of the risks involved with using the product for such purposes. The next case management conference in the AlloDerm MCL is scheduled for January 23, at 10:00 a.m.