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Gardasil Vaccine Lawsuits Selected For Initial Bellwether Pool and “Workup” for Trial
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Gardasil vaccine lawsuits will meet this week with lawyers involved in the litigation, as initial “workup” gets underway in a group of 16 cases selected for early bellwether trials to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the 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, lawsuits allege that the Merck & Co. HPV vaccine caused debilitating autoimmune complications, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), neurological problems, premature ovarian failure and other side effects.
There are currently nearly 90 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
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.
In March, each side was ordered to select five bellwether cases each for inclusion into the bellwether pool, for a total of 10. Two additional cases were added to the pool by the Court, which had already been filed in the Western District of North Carolina before the Gardasil vaccine lawsuits were consolidated, and another four were to be randomly selected by the Court.
In a joint status report (PDF) filed by the parties on June 20, the parties identified the 16 cases that were ultimately selected for the initial bellwether pool for preparation for trial.
Merck selected claims filed by Mary Ellouise Bond, Sydney Fetters, Madelyn Lipscomb, Madelyn Malloy and Jaden McTighe. Plaintiffs selected cases filed by Logan Dunn, Cooper Humphries, Kirsten Linton, Corrin McElerney and Tanja Wagner. The Court has selected claims by Lakia Brayboy, Maeson Derr, Savannah Flores, Kameron Hilton, Chaunna Lane, and Nalon Soileau.
According to the status report, each of these plaintiffs have agreed to have their case go to trial in the Western District of North Carolina, and the parties indicate they will begin to coordinate “Core Initial Workup” to prepare the claims for trial. The court previously indicated all written discovery in the claims must be completed by December 14, 2023, and the deadline for finishing fact discovery is February 15, 2024.
July 2023 Gardasil Vaccine Lawsuit Update
Originally, the first bellwether trials were slated to begin in August 2024. However, the Court now anticipates any challenges to the admissibility of expert witness testimony, replies in support of general causation, and summary judgment motions will not be 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.
A status conference (PDF) is scheduled for tomorrow, June 27, during which parties will discuss the status of the initial bellwether pool, status on the production of documents and a pending motion to compel by plaintiffs.
While the parties work to prepare cases for trial, Gadasil injury lawyers are continuing to investigate and file new lawsuits for individuals who experienced a variety of complications from the HPV vaccine, including:
- Autoimmune Diseases
- POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome)
- Premature Ovarian Failure
- Premature Menopause
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP)
- Irregular Heartbeat/Tachycardia
- Neurologic Disorder
- Brain Fog or Chronic Inability to Concentrate
- Chronic Fatigue
- Chronic Pain
- Severe Headaches
- Difficulty Sleeping
- Nerve Damage
- Menstrual Disorders/Problems
- Gastrointestinal Issues (food intolerances, nausea, vomiting)
Following coordinated discovery and any bellwether trials in the federal MDL, if the parties fail to reach Gardasil lawsuit settlements or another resolution for the litigation, Judge Conrad may later establish a process to begin remanding each individual claim back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the future.
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