Attorneys in Gardasil MDL Appointed To Leadership Positions for Pretrial Proceedings in HPV Vaccine Lawsuits
The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over the coordinated management of all Gardasil lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, involving allegations that side effects of the HPV vaccine left teens and young adults with permanent autoimmune disorders and other injuries, has appointed a group of four attorneys to serve in leadership positions during the multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings.
Gardasil is a widely used vaccine, which is typically administered to teens and young adults before they are sexually active, to protect against HPV infections, which can be sexually transmitted later in life and lead to the development of cervical cancer. While it has been marketed as safe and effective, a growing number of HPV vaccine lawsuits are now being pursued by individuals left with permanent and debilitating injuries, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), neurological problems, premature ovarian failure and other side effects.
Each of the lawsuits involve similar allegations, claiming that Merck knew about risks associated with the HPV vaccine and withheld important safety information from families and the medical community, while promoting and pushing the wider use of their vaccine among children nationwide. As a result of common questions of fact and law presented in the claims, a federal Gardasil MDL (multidistrict litigation) has been established for complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) appointed Judge Robert J. Conrad to preside over coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings in the claims, which are being handled out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
With Gardasil attorneys continuing to investigate and file claims for individuals nationwide, Judge Conrad issued a pretrial order (PDF) last week, appointing three lawyers to serve as Co-Lead Counsel in the Gardasil MDL, and one lawyer to serve as liaison counsel for the plaintiffs.
These attorneys will take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that benefit all cases, including conducting discovery and depositions into common issues that impact all claims, arguing motions before the court and potentially negotiating Gardasil settlements that establish a framework to resolve all claims. However, each individual plaintiff will still maintain their own Gardasil lawyer to meet various deadlines and establish a link between their specific injuries and the HPV vaccine, as well as negotiate any potential individual Gardasil lawsuit payout.
The order calls on the lead attorneys to meet and confer by November 2, to decide whether anything like a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee or other leadership body is needed to help conduct voluminous discovery that will be completed into the research and development of Gardasil, and allegations that Merck placed profits before consumer safety by failing to warn about serious, long-term side effects.
October 2022 HPV Vaccine Lawsuit Update
The Gardasil MDL was just established in August 2022, and the litigation remains in the earliest stages of organization, with lawyers meeting for the first time with the Gardasil judge last week, on October 11, 2022.
There are currently about 55 HPV Vaccine lawsuits consolidated before Judge Conrad in the MDL. However, over the coming weeks and months, it is expected that hundreds of lawsuits will be filed by individuals left with devastating long-term side effects from Gardasil, including:
- POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Issues
- Other Long-Term Vaccine Injuries
As part of the coordinated management of the Gardasil litigation, it is expected that Judge Conrad will establish a bellwether process, where small groups of representative vaccine injury claims will go through case-specific discovery and be prepared for early trial dates, to help gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if Gardasil injury settlements are not reached during the MDL proceedings, each case may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for separate trials.
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