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The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to consolidate all Mirena birth control lawsuits filed in the state, centralizing the cases before Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti for coordinated handling in Bergen County.
A growing number of lawsuits have been filed against Bayer throughout the New Jersey state court system indicating that women suffered Mirena IUD complications, where the birth control implant perforated the uterus and migrated to other areas of the body.
All of the complaints allege that Bayer failed to provide adequate warnings for women or the medical community about the potential risk of problems that may develop long after the small, T-shaped device is implanted.
Mirena is a form of birth control that is designed to provide long-term protection against pregnancy for up to five years. The plastic device is implanted into the uterus during a doctor visit and is supposed to remain in place within the uterus. However, thousands of women have reported problems involving Mirena.
While the Mirena warning label indicates that there is a risk of perforating the uterus at the time of insertion, lawsuits allege that Bayer failed to adequately disclose the risk of “spontanous” migrations of the Mirena IUD, which can move long after it is implanted, causing severe internal damage, infections and other complications that often result in the need for surgical removal.
Mirena IUD Litigation
The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to centralize the Mirena cases as part of an MCL, or Multi-County Litigation, after previously denying a request filed last year by Bayer to consolidate the proceedings before one judge.
At the time Bayer first requested to consolidate the New Jersey Mirena litigation in August 2012, there were about 16 lawsuits pending throughout the state court system. Given the limited scope of the litigation at that time, the Acting Administrative Director of the Courts for New Jersey issued a Notice to the Bar in January 2013, indicating that the court would not establish coordinated proceedings, previously referred to as “mass tort treatment.”
Following the continued filing of new complaints throughout the state, plaintiffs filed a request for the New Jersey Supreme Court to reconsider the centralization of the Mirena cases in March 2013. That request indicated that the number of lawsuits had increased to at least 60, and that “numerous additional actions” were expected in the New Jersey state court system over the coming weeks, as Bayer is headquartered in the state.
According to a Notice to the Bar (PDF) issued on May 24, after giving consideration to the application and comments received, the New Jersey Supreme Court has now decided to designate cases filed throughout the state involving the Mirena IUD as a Multi-County Litigation (MCL) and assigned the proceedings to Judge Martinotti in Bergen County.
As a result of the order, all complaints filed in various counties throughout the state will be transferred to the Superior Court, Law Division of Bergen County, where Judge Martinotti will oversee all management and trial issues. At his discretion, Judge Martinotti may return cases to the original county venue for disposition if necessary.
Similar to a multidistrict litigation (MDL) at the federal level, a New Jersey MCL is designed to eliminate contradictory rulings and duplicative discovery, and to serve the convenience of the court, witnesses and parties.
In April 2013, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established consolidated proceedings in the federal court system for all cases involving perforations or migrations of a Mirena IUD. Lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country have been assigned to U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings.
It is ultimately expected that thousands of lawsuits will be filed against Bayer in state and federal courts throughout the country by women who suffered complications with a Mirena IUD.