Direct Filing of Breast Implant Cancer Lawsuits Permitted in Federal MDL

Published on May 12, 2020 by Sandy Liebhard

Breast implant cancer lawsuits filed against Allergan, Inc. continue to move forward in the federal multidistrict litigation currently underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.

According to a Case Management Order dated April 24th, new plaintiffs will now be able to file their breast implant cancer claims directly in the proceeding, thus eliminating delays associated with the transfer of cases from their original jurisdiction to New Jersey.

“The inclusion of any action in MDL 2921, whether such action was or will be filed originally or directly in the District of New Jersey, shall not constitute a determination by this Court that venue is proper in this District or that the Court has personal jurisdiction over any named party,” the Order states. “Defendants’ agreement to this direct filing order shall not constitute an appearance by or for any Defendant not properly served and/or not subject to personal jurisdiction. Nothing in this Order shall be construed as a waiver of personal jurisdiction by any named Defendant.”

About Allergan Breast Implant Cancer Lawsuits

Close to 70 breast implant cancer lawsuits have been transferred to the District of New Jersey since the multidistrict litigation was created late last year. All of the cases were filed on behalf of women who developed breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) after receiving Allergan’s Biocell textured breast implants.

The plaintiffs involved in this litigation similarly allege that Allergan was aware of the link between Biocell textured devices and BIA-ALCL from performing extensive decades-long clinical studies, reviewing scientific studies and literature, regulatory communications, government reports, and complaints from consumers, among other sources. Yet this information was never disclosed to the public or medical community.

What is Breast Implant Cancer?

BIA-ALCL is a rare and slow-growing form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that develops in the scar capsule that forms around breast implants. Symptoms typically include lumps; swelling in the breast; asymmetry around the breast implant after the surgical site fully heals; and pain around the implant.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began investigating reports of BIA-ALCL in 2011, and had already concluded that the cancer was most likely to occur among the recipients of textured-surfaced implants. This past summer, however, the agency warned that Allergan Biocell textured breast implants had been implicated in 80% of all BIA-ALCL reports, as well as 12 of the 13 fatalities in which a manufacturer was identified.  What’s more, the FDA estimated that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL was six times higher with Allergan’s Biocell devices compared to textured implants from other manufacturers.

Allergan eventually agreed to recall Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders from the global market. But so far, the company has not offered to compensate Biocell recipients for costs associated with medical monitoring or the treatment of breast implant cancer.

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