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Judge Orders Selection of 2nd Pool of Mirena IUD Lawsuits

Mirena IUDThe presiding judge in the New Jersey multicounty litigation (MCL) encompassing over 1800 Mirena IUD lawsuits has ordered the selection of a pool of lawsuits from which the second preliminary (or “bellwether”) case will be chosen. In Case Management Order 35, issued on March 17, Judge Brian Marinotti outlined the schedule for selecting the second group of lawsuits, a process that will stretch until the end of the summer of 2016.

Thousands of women have filed lawsuits against the defendant, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, over the complications they have allegedly experienced as a result of using the Mirena IUD (or IUS), a popular form of birth control in the US. Complications cited in complaints include IUD migration, in which the device moves from the location in the uterus where it was implanted, and organ perforation, in which the T-shaped device pierces or otherwise injures other parts of the abdomen. Some more extreme examples of the later include cases in which the IUDs purportedly lacerated part of a plaintiff’s bowel or liver.

In order to expedite these trials, the courts have grouped many of them into the MCL taking place in New Jersey and into a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in New York State. Together, these litigation processes include over 3000 lawsuits.

Judge Marinotti orders selection of Mirena IUD lawsuits for second bellwether case

Judge Marinotti outlined a number of deadlines for the selection of the pool of cases in his recent case management order. First, the lead counsel for both the plaintiffs and for the defense are to submit a group of seven potential lawsuits from an approved list to the court by July 2, 2015. Both parties were reminded “to not present cases representing unique or idiosyncratic facts that would render the results of these cases unenlightening.” This factor is important because if the case selected and its outcome is to set precedent for any other cases to follow, it must be representative of the broader group of cases that make up the MCL.

Following detailed instructions regarding any possible dismissal of cases, the order then stipulates that case-specific discovery should be completed by February 18, 2016 and that each side may veto two of the opposing party’s selections, notifying the court by March 11. Deadlines are also given for the submission of case-specific expert reports, depositions of experts, additional motions, and a trial schedule.

The first bellwether case in the New Jersey MCL has already been scheduled for March of 2016. Additionally, bellwether cases in the federal proceedings to take place in New York State have also been scheduled for that month. Although the process for selecting lawsuits for the second bellwether case in the MCL has been established, a precise date has not as yet been established.

No MDL for PTC cases

While Mirena IUD lawsuits that allege migration or perforation number in the thousands, a smaller number of lawsuits also allege that the device is responsible for a neurological condition known as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (or IIH). A bid earlier this year to group the cases into a separate MDL was unsuccessful as the presiding judge ruled that there was an insufficient number of cases dealing with such allegations to warrant a separate litigation process.

  1. Newsweek, The Courtroom Controversy Behind Popular Contraceptive Mirena

  2. NJ Courts, Case Management Order 35

  3. US District Court, Southern District of New York, In re: Mirena IUD Products Liability Litigation