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As a growing number of personal injury lawsuits are filed over Mirena birth control, a motion has been filed to consolidate all federal cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
Bayer Healthcare faces at least eight Mirena birth control lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country, with most of those complaints coming over the past few months.
All of the lawsuits involve common allegations that the implantable form of birth control, known as an intra-uterine device (IUD) or intra-uterine system (IUS), caused severe complications or problems once it was in place, such as puncturing the uterus, migrating to other parts of the body, causing infections, pain and other complications.
In a motion (PDF) filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on January 16, Plaintiffs Stephanie Barnett and Kevin Crawford asked that all Mirena lawsuits be consolidated in the Northern District of Ohio, to reduce duplicative discovery, eliminate conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to increase judicial efficiencies.
At least eight different complaints were identified by Barnett and Crawford as potential “tag along” actions, which should be transferred into the Mirena MDL. Each of the cases is currently pending before a different judge in eight different federal district courts, with Ohio the only state that has more than one lawsuit pending.
If the cases are consolidated for pretrial proceedings, they will be handled during pretrial proceedings in a manner similar to how a Mirena class action lawsuit would be managed to coordinate discovery and other issues common to all claims. However, the complaints would still remain individual actions, where each plaintiff must establish that the birth control implant was defective and the cause of an injury.
If an agreement to settle the Mirena birth control lawsuits is not reached following pretrial proceedings and any potential “bellwether” trials, each claim would ultimately be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was initially filed for trial.
The request for a Mirena MDL came just two weeks after the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided not to consolidate the Mirena litigation at the state level. That consolidation request came after Bayer requested that all cases filed in the state, which is where the drug maker is based, be centralized before one judge. Bayer has not yet responded to the motion to establish a federal MDL for Mirena.
Oral arguments on the motion may be scheduled for an upcoming hearing of the U.S. JPML in San Diego, California on March 21, or in Chicago, Illinois on May 30.