Group of 16 Gardasil Lawsuits To Be Selected For Bellwether Pool in HPV Vaccine MDL

Claims will go through case-specific discovery and be eligible for the first Gardasil bellwether trials beginning in late 2024 or early 2025.

A federal judge is calling for a group of 16 Gardasil lawsuits to be prepared for a series of early bellwether trials, which will help the parties determine how juries are likely to respond to expert testimony and evidence that will be repeated throughout a growing number of claims brought by individuals who experienced complications after receiving the HPV vaccine.

Gardasil is a widely used vaccine that is typically administered to teens and young adults before they are sexually active, to protect against HPV infections, which can lead to the development of cervical cancer later in life. However, despite being marketed as safe and effective, Merck & Co. now faces lawsuits alleging that the HPV vaccine caused debilitating autoimmune complications, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), neurological problems, premature ovarian failure and other side effects.

There are currently about 80 complaints pending in the federal court system, which have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad in the Western District of North Carolina, since they each involve common questions of fact and law. However, over the coming months and years, it is widely expected that the litigation will continue to expand, and hundreds of individual cases will ultimately be filed in the HPV vaccine MDL (multidistrict litigation).

Gardasil HPV Vaccine Lawsuit

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Side effects of the Gardasil HPV vaccine have been linked to reports of serious and debilitating autoimmune injuries. Lawyers review cases nationwide.

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In December, plaintiffs and defendants agreed upon a timeline for selecting a group of early bellwether Gardasil cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates expected to start in late 2024 and early 2025. During the bellwether process, these sample claims will go through case-specific discovery and the amounts of any Gardasil lawsuit payouts awarded by juries may help facilitate settlement negotiations between the parties.

On March 10, Judge Conrad issued a case management order (PDF) outlining the discovery schedule and procedures for selecting an initial pool of 16 Gardasil HPV vaccine lawsuits, which will later be reduced to a smaller group of six bellwether trial cases.

According to the order, each party will select five bellwether cases for inclusion in the Bellwether pool over the coming weeks, for a total of 10. Two additional cases have already been added to the pool by the Court, which were originally filed in the Western District of North Carolina before the formal Gardasil MDL consolidation was established, and the Court will randomly select the last four, resulting in a total of 16 bellwether selections, each of which must have been filed prior to February 28, 2023.

All 16 case selections will be completed by June 1, 2023, and written discovery is due by December 14, 2023. The deadline for the close of fact discovery is February 15, 2024.

Originally, the first bellwether trials were slated to begin in August 2024. However, the case management order’s schedule now indicates Daubert motions, replies in support of general causation, and summary judgment motions are not due until September 23, 2024. Unless Merck is able to exclude every one of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses from testifying at trial, it is then expected that a series of Gardasil bellwether trials will be set in late 2024 and 2025.

April 2023 Gardasil Lawsuit Update

As parties work to prepare the bellwether cases for early trials dates over the remainder of 2023 and most of next year, lawyers are continuing to investigate and file new Gardasil lawsuits for individuals who experienced a variety of complications, including:

  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
  • Premature Ovarian Failure
  • Premature Menopause
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
  • Irregular Heartbeat/Tachycardia
  • Lupus
  • Neurologic Disorder
  • Brain Fog or Chronic Inability to Concentrate
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Chronic Pain
  • Severe Headaches
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nerve Damage
  • Menstrual Disorders/Problems
  • Gastrointestinal Issues (food intolerances, nausea, vomiting)

Following coordinated discovery and the bellwether trials, if the parties fail to reach Gardasil vaccine settlements or another resolution for the litigation, each individual claim may later be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the future.


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