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Discovery Underway in New Jersey Lawsuits Over Mirena Birth Control

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According to pretrial orders issued in the New Jersey litigation for Mirena birth control lawsuits, discovery is beginning in the cases, but the first trial dates are unlikely to start until at least the second half of 2015.

Nearly 400 product liability complaints have been filed against Bayer in state and federal courts throughout the United States by women who allege they suffered serious and debilitating injuries when Mirena IUD birth control migrated out of place, often resulting in a perforated uterus, infections and other complications.

More than half of the pending cases are filed in New Jersey state court, which is where Bayer’s U.S. headquarters are based. At least 219 complaints brought in New Jersey state court are centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergan County as part of an MCL, or Multi-County Litigation.

In an Order (PDF) issued September 25, Judge Martinotti set out the schedule for production of documents, selection of a small group of cases for an initial trial pool, completion of discovery and preparation of the cases for trial. The deadline established for dispositive motions and challenges to expert witnesses is May 15, 2015, suggesting that the first case will not reach a jury until the second half of the year.

The order mirrors the Mirena bellwether trial schedule issued in the federal MDL, or Multi-District Litigation, which was established for all complaints filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country. The federal litigation has been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York, where at least 159 cases are currently pending. A small group of lawsuits will also be prepared for early trial dates in the Mirena MDL, with dispositive motions and expert challenges also due by May 15.

Mirena Birth Control Complications

Mirena birth control is a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, which is also often referred to as an IUD, or intrauterine device. The small T-shaped birth control is inserted into the woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

Bayer introduced Mirena in 2000, aggressively promoting the IUD as a hassle-free form of birth control. However, a growing number of women and their doctors have reported problems where the Mirena IUD migrated from its initial implant location, perforating the uterus and other organs, causing infections and abscesses, and leaving women unknowingly unprotected against the chance of pregnancy.

Since 2000, more than 70,000 adverse events have been filed with the FDA involving Mirena IUD complications, including at least 5,000 cases involving women who indicated that Mirena migrated out of place since 2008, and 1,322 reports where the Mirena IUD punctured the uterus.

As more women contact Mirena injury lawyers over the coming months and years, the total number of lawsuits filed nationwide is expected to continue to rise, with some estimates suggesting that thousands of cases will ultimately be filed.

All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Bayer failed to warn doctors or women of possible Mirena IUD complications, including migration to different parts of the body, perforation of the uterus and other organs, increased infection risk, expulsion from the body, and ectopic pregnancies.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation where a large number of lawsuits are filed over similar injuries, it is common for early trial dates, or “bellwether” cases, to be scheduled to help the parties gauge the relative strengths and weaknesses of their case and how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will likely be repeated throughout the litigation.

Following a series of “bellwether” trials in the federal court system, if Mirena settlement agreements are not reached in a large number of cases, hundreds of individual cases may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts throughout the country where they were originally filed for individual trial dates.

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