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Conferences Scheduled with Federal Mirena IUD Court Over Next Year

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As the number of product liability lawsuits over Mirena IUD injuries continue to mount throughout the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the consolidated litigation has scheduled a series of conferences over the next year.

In April, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that all Mirena IUD lawsuits filed in federal district courts throughout the country will be transferred to U.S District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York as part of an MDL, or Multi-District Litigation.

All of the complaints involves similar allegations that women suffered painful and debilitating complications from a Mirena IUD, after the implanted birth control device perforated the uterus and migrated to other areas of the body, often resulting in infection, injury to other organs and the need for surgical removal of Mirena.

As of early July 2013, more than 100 lawsuits have already been centralized before Judge Seibel for coordinated pretrial proceedings. However, as Mirena IUD lawyers continue to review and file additional cases, it is expected that thousands of complaints will be filed in the coming months.

In a notice (PDF) issued on July 26, the Mirena IUD Court established a schedule of status conferences to be held before Judge Seibel between now and June 2014, with at least 8 meetings to be held over the coming year to ensure the litigation moves forward toward resolution.

The first conference in the Mirena MDL was held in May, following which a number of attorneys were appointed to various leadership roles in the litigation, designated to take certain actions that benefit all plaintiffs who have brought a lawsuit. The next status conference is scheduled for August 14, 2013 at 9:30 a.m. at the Charles L. Brieant United States Courthouse in White Plains, New York.

Mirena IUD Problems

Mirena is a long-acting form of birth control, known as an intra-uterine device or IUD. It is a small t-shaped piece of plastic that releases estrogen, and is designed to be implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

While the birth control implant is marketed as an easily removable and hassel-free way of preventing pregnancy for up to five years, allowing women to avoid worrying about taking a daily birth control pill, the lawsuits allege that users have suffered devastating injuries when the Mirena IUD migrated and perforated the uterus.

More than 70,000 reports have been filed with the FDA involving problems and complications with Mirena IUD since 2000, including thousands of reports where Mirena punctured the uterus or migrated out of position.

Plaintiffs claim Bayer only warned against migration that might occur because the Mirena was not implanted correctly. They claim that the drug maker has never warned that after successful implantation, the IUD might migrate spontaneously, potentially puncturing the uterus and other vital organs.

According to a position statement filed by plaintiffs in the litigation, in some of the cases the Mirena IUD is located in a place too dangerous for removal, requiring patients to undergo regular monitoring to ensure it does not cause severe internal damage.

Status of State and Federal Litigation over Mirena IUD

The federal MDL was established to centralize all Mirena IUD cases in one court, reducing duplicative discovery across a large number of cases, avoiding conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and serving the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

As part of the pretrial proceedings, it is expected that a small number of lawsuits will be selected for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases. The preparation for these test cases and any trials held before Judge Seibel in the Mirena court are designed to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case and may help facilitate settlement negotiations in the cases.

In addition to the federal litigation, more than 173 lawsuits over the Mirena IUD have been filed in the New Jersey state court system, which is where Bayer’s U.S. headquarters are located. The New Jersey courts have centralized the cases before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the Superior Court for Bergen County, as part of an MCL or Multi-County Litigation, which is similar in many ways to the federal MDL. The next Case Management Conference in the New Jersey litigation is scheduled for August 13.

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