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Negotiations and Settlements in Cases Against the Birth Control Drugs Yaz and Yasmin

According to recent reports, the manufacturer of Yaz and Yasmin—Bayer—has reached settlement agreements in at least 1,444 cases. On June 22, 2012, the parties reportedly told Chief Judge David R. Herndon that good faith negotiations are continuing. Though the number of settled cases is promising, an estimated 14,000 cases remain pending against Bayer.

New cases continue to be filed regularly. Based on past estimates of the pending cases, 10% likely involve Yaz-related stroke or heart attack, 40 to 41% involve deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism, and 43% involve claims of gallbladder injury. So far, Bayer had proven willing to resolve cases involving pulmonary embolism or DVT, but reluctant to settle gallbladder cases.

Though recent settlement figures are not yet available, Bayer has settled past Yaz cases for an average of $218,000.

Defining bellwether cases

Most of the deadlines extended by Judge Herndon related to a series of bellwether trials designed to serve as test cases in the multidistrict litigation (MDL). Bellwether cases allow the parties to gauge a jury’s reaction to the evidence, and to test the strengths and weaknesses of representative cases. Verdicts from bellwether trials are valuable as a guide to additional Yaz settlement negotiations.

The original scheduling order in the MDL called for three bellwether trials, which were to begin in January of 2012. Two of the cases concerned pulmonary embolism and DVT, while the third concerned a plaintiff’s gallbladder injury. Because Bayer has been unwilling to resolve gallbladder cases, some observers anticipate that the gallbladder bellwether may soon move forward.

Read for more information on pulmonary embolism from Yaz use.

A Special Master of the MDL works as a mediator

Cases that have reached or are considering a Yaz settlement are from the parties in the Yaz MDL currently underway in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. In 2011, Judge Herndon appointed the noted George Washington School of Law professor Stephen Saltzburg to act as Special Master for the MDL. In that capacity, Professor Saltzburg has worked as a mediator to help both sides settle cases without trials.

Since then, Judge Herndon has regularly extended all lawsuit deadlines to allow the settlement negotiations to continue. On April 19, 2012, Judge Herndon gave the parties another ninety days. Recent reports of progress suggest he will do so again as the latest extension expires.

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