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New Jersey AlloDerm Lawsuits May be Designated Mass Tort

Jun 9, 2011 | Parker Waichman LLP

Mass tort designation is being sought for at least 25 AlloDerm injury lawsuits currently pending in New Jersey state courts.  In a motion filed last month, an AlloDerm plaintiff requests that the pending cases, as well as any AlloDerm lawsuits filed in the state in the future, be transferred to Judge Carol E. Higbee in Atlantic County, where 11 of the claims have already been filed.

Under a mass tort designation, the AlloDerm lawsuits would be centralized before a single judge for pretrial proceedings in order to avoid duplicate discovery and conflicting rulings.  However, the claims would remain individual lawsuits for purposes of determining damages and each claim would be judged independently at trial.

The Application for Mass Tort Designation asserts that asserts that the AlloDerm litigation shares common issues of law and fact:

"AlloDerm is used by surgeons in abdominal repair surgeries, hernia repair surgeries, breast reconstruction surgeries, and other reconstructive surgeries. The litigation involves the failure of the biologic allograft manufactured by LifeCell and stems from damages suffered by Plaintiffs as a direct and proximate result of Defendant's negligent and wrongful conduct in connection with AlloDerm.

Plaintiffs claim that Defendant violated the New Jersey Products Liability Act in designing, developing, processing, manufacturing, testing, packaging, advertising, promoting, marketing, distributing, labeling, and/or selling AlloDerm. Specifically, Plaintiffs claim in part that AlloDerm was sold with inadequate warnings and instructions as to its natural properties and its potential failure rate. Both the theory of the case and the injuries has a common thread and are able to be addressed in consolidated proceedings."

AlloDerm injury lawsuits claim the surgical mesh caused plaintiffs to suffer a variety of injuries, including infections, abscesses, bruising, swelling, and recurrence of hernias, which often resulted in a need for additional surgeries. 

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