Mirena Birth Control Lawsuits Being Prepared for Early Trial Dates in MDL
As several thousand Mirena IUD lawsuits continue to move forward nationwide, a small group of cases in the federal court system are being prepared for early trial dates involving migration injuries alleged caused by the birth control implants.
Known as “bellwether” cases, the first Mirena trials are expected to begin in the first half of 2016 to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation and potentially facilitate negotiations to settle Mirena lawsuits and avoid the need for hundreds of cases to be set for individual trial dates throughout the country.
Mirena birth control is a small, plastic, T-shaped implant known as an intrauterine device, or IUD, which is designed to be placed into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.
According to allegations raised in more than 2,500 product liability lawsuits filed against Bayer Healthcare by women throughout the U.S., inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of Mirena birth control injuries that may result from the device puncturing the uterus and moving to other areas of the body.
Since April 2013, cases filed in federal district courts throughout the country have been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
According to the latest case list (PDF) released by the court on December 15, there are currently at least 1,121 cases pending in the Mirena birth control MDL.
As part of the coordinated proceedings, Judge Seibel identified 12 cases that are part of an Initial Disposition Pool in August 2014, which have been going through case-specific discovery over the past six months. In May 2015, it is expected that this group will be narrowed down to six cases, which will then go through expert witness discovery and dispositive motions before the Court selects the specific case that will go before a jury during the first scheduled trial date, which is currently set for March 7, 2016.
In an Order (PDF) issued December 19, Judge Seibel outlined a process for replacing cases that are part of the Initial Disposition Pool if they are dismissed by Plaintiffs, indicating that any such voluntary dismissals will be considered with prejudice unless good cause is shown, which would preclude the Plaintiff from refiling the case in the future.
Judge Seibel indicated that Bayer may select a replacement case if any Initial Disposition Pool case is dismissed by January 16, 2015 or within thirty days after it’s original selection, whichever is later. For cases dismissed after January 16 or more than thirty days after it is selected, Bayer will be able to elect to either select two replacement cases or identify one of the cases originally nominated to the Initial Disposition Pool by Plaintiffs for removal from the cases eligible for trial.
In the event that any cases are dismissed due to a settlement reached by Bayer, Plaintiffs will be permitted to select a replacement case within 14 days.
In the order, Judge Seibel also asked the parties to inform the Court and opposing counsel by January 7, 2015 if they are willing to waive venue objections in the cases and consent to trial of the bellwether cases in the Southern District of New York. At least four cases that are currently part of the Initial Disposition Pool were originally filed outside the MDL or have a proper venue that would prevent the case from being tried before Judge Seibel unless the parties agree to a waiver.
Following any bellwether trials held in the MDL, if Bayer fails to settle or otherwise resolve cases, Judge Seibel could begin remanding cases back to the U.S. District Courts where they were originally filed for individual trial dates.
Mirena IUD Birth Control Litigation
In addition to cases pending in the federal MDL, there are also about 1,375 Mirena cases pending at the state court level in New Jersey, which is where Bayer’s U.S. headquarters are located.
Similar centralized proceedings have been established in New Jersey state court, where the cases are consolidated before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County as part of a Multi-County Litigation, or MCL.
Another bellwether program has been established in New Jersey, where a small group of cases are also being prepared for early trial dates that may begin by early 2016. There is a case management conference before Judge Martinotti set for January 20, 2015 at 2:00 p.m.
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