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Following an order last month from the New Jersey Supreme Court to consolidate the Mirena IUD litigation pending in the state before one judge for coordinated proceedings, an initial conference has been scheduled on June 17 for the parties to meet with the Court and review the status of the lawsuits.
All product liability lawsuits over Mirena IUD in New Jersey have been centralized before Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County, as part of an MCL or Multicounty Litigation.
The complaints all involve similar allegations that Bayer failed to provide adequate warnings for women or the medical community about the risk of complications from Mirena IUD, which is a small, T-shaped form of birth control that is implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.
Plaintiffs allege that they suffered severe injuries when the IUD perforated their uterus and migrated to other areas of the body, often resulting in damage to internal organs, infections and ultimately the need for surgery to remove Mirena.
Organization of New Jersey Mirena Lawsuits
According to an order (PDF) issued by Judge Martinotti, the initial conference for the New Jersey litigation has been scheduled to discuss the status of discovery in the lawsuits, the status of motions, the organizational structure of the litigation, the formation of a discovery plan, coordination with the federal MDL and to review the status of any efforts to settle Mirena lawsuits so far.
Prior to the conference, counsel have been ordered to meet and confer in an attempt to seek a consensus with respect to a proposed discovery plan, suggested schedule for joinder of additional parties, amendment of pleadings, motions and trial dates.
The attorneys involved have also been ordered to submit brief written statements including the status of discovery, a list of each party’s witnesses that would be expected to testify at trial, a proposed schedule for events necessary prior to trial, a concise demand or offer to resolve the lawsuits and other issues that need to be addressed by the Court. These statements are to be submitted 7 days before the conference, and will not be binding.
Judge Martinoitti has also ordered that discovery continue in the cases, indicating that there will be no stay pending the conference. He also indicated that any applications for leadership positions in the state court Mirena IUD litigation should be filed seven days before the conference as well.
Federal Court Mirena Litigation Status
In addition to the New Jersey state court Mirena lawsuits, Bayer also faces a number of similar complaints in the federal court system. All complaints filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country have also been consolidated for pretrial proceedings, with an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation centralized before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York.
Last month, lawyers were appointed to various leadership roles in the federal proceedings, which was established in April 2013. It is expected that there will be coordination between the state and federal court actions.
The issues presented in the case will center on whether Bayer provided adequate warnings about the risk of “spontaneous” migrations of the Mirena IUD, where the device perforates the uterus and causes internal damage after it is inserted.
While the Mirena warning label does indicate that there is a risk of perforation at the time of insertion, plaintiffs allege that the manufacturer failed to warn about the risk of severe internal damage, infections and other problems that may surface months or even years after the IUD has been in place.
There are currently only about 100 lawsuits filed throughout the country, but the size of the Mirena litigation is expected to continue to increase over the coming year as lawyers investigate and file new cases, as thousands of women have reported problems involving Mirena.