Plaintiffs who have filed breast implant cancer lawsuits against Allergan, Inc. in New Jersey have asked that state’s Supreme Court to consolidate their cases before a single judge in Bergen County.
According to an application submitted to the Court on February 5th, six lawsuits involving Allergan’s recently recalled Biocell textured implants are already pending in New Jersey Superior Court, including five in Bergen County and one in Middlesex County. Because attorneys are preparing to file additional cases in the near future, the petitioners predict that the litigation will eventually grow to include hundreds of similar claims.
All of the lawsuits involve women who received Biocell textured breast implants or tissue expanders. Allergan recalled those products last year, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration linked the devices to breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL), a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that develops in the scar capsule surrounding breast implants.
“Plaintiffs allege that as a result of Allergan ‘s improper conduct, they were implanted with Biocell Products, have suffered severe injuries including development of BIA-ALCL or the risk of developing this potentially fatal cancer, and are now forced to undergo revision surgeries and other treatment, and incur substantial economic costs as well,” the application states.
In requesting the Multicounty Litigation designation, the petitioners argue that centralization in Bergan County – where Allergan maintains its U.S. headquarters – will ensure judicial efficiency and allow all parties to benefit from coordinated discovery. They further assert that consolidating the cases will facilitate better coordination with a federal multidistrict litigation already underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
BIA-ALCL is a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that occurs in the tissue surrounding breast implants. Typical symptoms include:
The FDA began investigating reports of BIA-ALCL in 2011, and had already determined that women with textured breast implants were most at risk. Last summer, however, the agency warned that Allergan Biocell textured breast implants had been implicated in 80% of BIA-ALCL reports, as well as 12 of the 13 fatalities in which a manufacturer was identified.
At the FDA’s request, Allergan later announced a worldwide recall for all Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders.