Gardasil Lawyers Report Litigation Moving Forward, As Lawsuits Over HPV Vaccine Continue to be Filed

Merck faces a mounting number of lawsuits over it's HPV vaccine, with new complaints continuing to be filed each month by individuals left with severe injuries and life-threatening autoimmune disorders from Gardasil

Lawyers involved in the federal Gardasil lawsuits submitted a joint report this week to the U.S. District Judge presiding over the litigation, indicating they are continuing to have productive meetings and preparing an initial group of bellwether cases, as a growing number of new complaints continue to be filed over 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.

Although it has been marketed to families and the medical community as safe and effective, Merck now faces lawsuits over HPV vaccine side effects that left young adults with debilitating autoimmune complications, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), neurological problems, premature ovarian failure, infertility and other complications.

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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Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints brought throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established a Gardasil vaccine MDL (multidistrict litigation) last year, transferring claims filed by lawyers throughout the federal court system to U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad in the Western District of North Carolina, for coordinated discover and pretrial proceedings.

Lawyers Continue to File New Lawsuits Over HPV Vaccine

According to the latest docket report (PDF) posted by the U.S. JPML on July 17, there are currently at least 89 cases centralized before Judge Conrad. However, that number is expected to dramatically increase in the coming months and years, as Gardasil lawyers have filed hundreds of claims in the U.S. Vaccine Court, where claimants must initially bring any lawsuits over HPV vaccine side effects, and then wait at least eight months before transferring their claim to the U.S. District Court system.

In one of the most recent lawsuits filed against Merck this week, a 20 year California man brought a complaint (PDF) before Judge Conrad in the Western District of North Carolina, indicating that he previously filed a petition seeking compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, but has now elected to proceed with his claim as a civil action.

Arturo Vasquez, II indicates he was only 16 years old when he first received the Gardasil injection in July 2019, after his mother was told Gardasil was very safe and that teenagers must get vaccinated against HPV to prevent cancer. However, the lawsuit indicates that after the injection, Vasquez began experiencing joint pain, headaches, fatigue, night sweats and difficulty sleeping, which then progressed to blister-like spots inside of his throat, nosebleeds, red spots all over his body, and heart palpitations. It was eventually discovered Vasquez’s blood platelet count was extremely low and that he was at risk of serious injuries, including life-threatening bleeding risks.

The lawsuit over Gardasil indicates that Vasquez was eventually diagnosed with immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), which is an acquired autoimmune disease that leaves Vasquez at risk of fatal bleeding if he suffers an injury or is unable to keep his platelet count high enough.

“As a result of his post-Gardasil symptoms, Plaintiff has been unable to engage in activities that a young person normally would enjoy,” the lawsuit notes. “He is no longer able to exercise as he had previously done, he had to give up playing high school football and basketball, practicing Jiu Jitsu, and riding motocross bikes.”

Gardasil Bellwether Test Cases Undergoing Preparation for Trial

Vasquez’s claim will be centralized in the federal MDL, where Gardasil lawyers have already selected a small group of sixteen cases for an initial bellwether pool, which will be prepared for early trial dates in late 2024 and early 2025.

In joint status report (PDF) submitted on July 18, Gardasil lawyers indicate they are continuing to make progress on those initial cases and other matters, asking that Judge Conrad cancel a previously scheduled status conference that was set for July 25, 2023.

The lawyers told Judge Conrad that amended complaints were filed in thirteen of the sixteen bellwether cases on June 28, and the parties have agreed to an extension that requires Merck to file case-specific answers in those claims today.

The report also indicates parties continue to meet and confer regarding the production of documents, including adverse event reports submitted to Merck.

While the outcome of these early bellwether trials will not have any binding impact on other claims, they will be closely watched to gauge how juris may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, and the average Gardasil lawsuit payouts awarded may impact any settlement amounts offered by Merck to avoid the need for each individual case to go before a jury in future years.

See If You Qualify for Gardasil Vaccine Compensation


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