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Discovery Begins in Mirena Multi-County Litigation

Discovery has begun in New Jersey Mirena birth control lawsuits, although the first trial dates are not scheduled until the second half of 2015. Discovery is the process in which information relevant to the lawsuit is exchanged and documents produced that may be necessary for a plaintiff to prove her case.

This discovery process is underway in Mirena multi-county litigation (MCL), in which more than half of all pending claims against Bayer Healthcare have been consolidated.

Mirena birth control lawsuit MCL in New Jersey

More than 400 product liability lawsuits have been filed against Bayer based on problems with the company’s intrauterine birth control device. The Mirena IUD, which Bayer marketed as a convenient and effective form of hormonal birth control, is alleged to have caused significant complications for patients. For many women, after Mirena was inserted into the uterus, the T-shaped device perforated the uterus and migrated to other areas of the body.

As many as two women out of every 1,000 experience this Mirena uterine perforation and migration, which can be extremely painful and can lead to infection, sepsis, infertility and hemorrhaging. Revision surgery is generally required to remove the IUD and address complications.

The estimated 400+ patients in New Jersey who have experienced this problem and other unexpected side effects have filed a Mirena birth control lawsuit to obtain compensation for their injuries. These complaints have been centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergan County, where the discovery process has begun.

When cases are consolidated, each plaintiff retains her independent claim against Bayer, unlike in a class action where all plaintiffs who suffered similar harm file one case together.  However, the judge is able to more easily decide issues relevant to the individual cases because the judge is familiar with the facts. Decisions that affect all pending Mirena IUD litigation in a similar way, such as questions about what papers must be produced by Bayer during discovery, can also be decided only once for greater expediency and a faster resolution.

This process of coordinating multiple cases within New Jersey is known as multi-county litigation (MCL) and the judge’s most recent order in the MCL was issued on September 25 and set out the schedule for document production and the scheduling of initial trials.

Mirena IUD litigation also moves forward in federal court

As plaintiffs move forward in preparing their cases during discovery, the progress of the multi-county litigation in New Jersey mirrors the progress in Mirena multidistrict litigation that is moving forward on the federal level.   Multidistrict litigation (MDL) operates in a similar manner to multi-county litigation in that individual plaintiffs retain their separate claims against Bayer but one judge is assigned to multiple cases and is able to make decisions that affect all the claims.

The fundamental difference between MCL and MDL is that multidistrict litigation consolidates cases filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the United States while multi-county litigation only centralizes claims filed in state courts in different counties throughout New Jersey.

In both types of litigation, plaintiffs will have the right to request documents from Bayer during the discovery period to help prove the company made a dangerous product, was negligent in the product’s design or was negligent in failing to warn plaintiffs of the harm that Mirena could cause.  In federal and state cases, bellwether trials or test trials will also occur, in which several representative cases go to court so both parties can get an idea of what the likely outcome of Mirena litigation will be.

The results of the bellwether trials can be useful in Mirena birth control lawsuit settlement negotiations if Bayer wishes to resolve claims by paying plaintiffs compensation outside of court, since both sides will both get an idea of what Mirena cases are worth.