AlloDerm Plaintiff Requests Mass Tort for New Jersey Lawsuits

At least 25 lawsuits involving AlloDerm surgical mesh are pending in New Jersey State Courts. Recently, a motion was filed requesting that all New Jersey <"">AlloDerm lawsuits be consolidated in a mass tort before one judge for pretrial proceedings.

Manufactured by LifeCell, AlloDerm is made from donated cadaver skin that has had all of the cells removed in order to limit the chances of patients experiencing adverse reactions to the mesh. AlloDerm was originally manufactured for burn victims, but has since been used in other procedures including breast reconstruction and hernia repair.

Some studies have indicated that AlloDerm does not always perform as intended. One 2008 study of 70 hernia surgery patient found that AlloDerm’s overall complication rate was 24 percent. Of the AlloDerm patients who experienced complications, there was one rejection, two infections, and 14 hernia recurrences.AlloDerm complications may require patients to undergo a potentially painful procedure called mesh explant, or the removal of the graft.

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 resulted in a need for additional surgeries. The lawsuits further allege that AlloDerm is a defective product and that LifeCell failed to warn the plaintiffs about its risks or the true nature of the skin grafts.

In an Application for Mass Tort Designation filed with the New Jersey Supreme Court on May 13, an AlloDerm plaintiff requests that the state’s cases be transferred to Judge Carol E. Higbee in Atlantic County, where 11 of the claims have already been filed. The motion asserts that the AlloDerm litigation shares common issues of law and fact, and that centralization will facilitate the efficient management of the lawsuits.

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.

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