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Judge Schedules Status Conferences in Mirena IUD MDL

As the number of Mirena IUD lawsuits against the maker of the contraceptive continues to climb, the federal court judge presiding over the centralized litigation is preparing to hold the second status conference in a series of similar cases with common allegations.  The next status conference will take place on August 14 at a federal court in White Plains, New York with at least 8 more conferences scheduled before June, 2014.

Allegations against Bayer Pharmaceuticals

The Mirena IUD lawsuits are related to alleged injuries suffered by women who used the birth control device, a plastic t-shaped intrauterine implant that emits the same hormones found in oral contraceptives, removes the need for patients to take a daily pill, and prevents pregnancy for up to five years. Many injured women retained a Mirena lawyer after allegedly experiencing complications including device migration, expulsion and dislodgment, uterine perforation, infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, organ damage, vaginal hemorrhage, life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, miscarriage, infertility and the need to have the implant surgically removed. 

Mirena lawyers have called the IUD ‘defective and unreasonably dangerous,’ alleging that Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the makers of device, engaged in misleading advertising, misrepresented the benefits of the device, knowingly produced, distributed and sold a defective product, and failed to disclose or concealed dangerous side-effects associated with the intrauterine birth control device.

Specifically, injured parties allege that Bayer indicated that device migration could occur only as a result of improper implantation, and never warned users that the IUD could potentially migrate spontaneously and perforate the uterine walls, even after correct implantation.

One Mirena lawyer accused Bayer of “wanton and reckless disregard for the public safety,” in its marketing of the device that hit the market in 2000 and has produced between 45,000 and 70,000 reports of adverse IUD side effects since then. Mirena lawsuits have asked the court to award compensation for emotional trauma and pain and suffering stemming from the injuries in addition to medical bills and lost wages.

Mirena IUD lawsuits centralized as multidistrict litigation

More than 100 similar lawsuits filed in federal court around the country have been transferred to U.S District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York through a procedure called multidistrict litigation that seeks to consolidate claims of similar allegations, avoid duplicative discovery requests, and prevent dozens of different courts from issuing conflicting pretrial rulings in related cases. Mirena IUD lawsuits were centralized through multidistrict litigation beginning in July of this year, and products liability lawyers expect thousands more claims to be filed shortly.

One benefit to consolidated Mirena litigation is that it allows a panel of judges to expedite a select group of cases to trial in order to gauge how juries will respond to the evidence that will be presented in most of the cases. These early “bellwether trials” may help propel Bayer into quicker settlement negotiations with the injured women and their attorneys.

State multi-county litigation (MCL) 

Mirena IUD lawsuits have also been filed in state court in New Jersey, where Bayer maintains its U.S. headquarters. Judge Brian R. Martinotti of the Superior Court for Bergen County is presiding over more than 173 cases centralized through the state system multi-county litigation, which mirrors the federal multidistrict litigation procedure. The next conference in the state system litigation is set for August 13.