Allergan Breast Implants Alleged to Cause Cancer
On October 3, 2019, Plaintiffs in several pending class actions made a motion before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, to centralize related Allergan Biocell textured breast implants lawsuits in a Multidistrict Litigation. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) is a panel of appellate and district court judges that determine whether or not to create an MDL. A Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) is a procedure whereby qualifying cases filed in federal district courts throughout the nation are consolidated in one federal district court, before a single judge. If an MDL is created, the JPML then selects the district court and assigns a judge to preside over the litigation.
In that motion, Plaintiffs allege that the claims should be consolidated because they involve “thousands of other women with Allergan implants, including hundreds (if not thousands) of women who have already exhibited symptoms commonly associated with breast implant-associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (“BIA-ALCL”).” BIA-ALCL is an otherwise extremely rare type of cancer that has been specifically linked to textured breast implants. Plaintiffs further allege that hundreds of complaints to the United States Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) of cases of BIA-ALCL, prompted a July 2019, worldwide recall of Allergan Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders, with the FDA reporting that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL was six times higher with Allergan’s Biocell products than textured implants from other manufacturers.
Plaintiffs also contend that the recalled Allergan Biocell textured breast implants and tissue expanders have been on sale in the United States for more than a decade and, though Allergan has recalled the products, Allergan has not agreed to pay for removal or medical monitoring expenses. Accordingly, the motion seeks to centralize the class actions, preferably in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee or the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
While the particular cases sought to be consolidated in the motion are class actions, it is expected that individual textured breast implant BIA-ALCL claims will also be centralized in any resulting MDL. Unlike the class actions, those individual claims would retain their separate respective identities as they are prepared for trial, utilizing the MDL uniform pleadings, discovery, motion practice, and, most likely, bellwether trials, before the same MDL judge. As always, the JPML retains the authority to remand any MDL case back to the originating district court for trial.