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The federal judge presiding over all Mirena birth control lawsuits, which were recently centralized as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation, has scheduled an Initial Conference for May 17, at which time lawyers involved in the case will meet with the Court and discuss the organizational structure of the consolidated proceedings.
On April 8, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all product liability lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country against Bayer over Mirena IUD complications, including allegations that the implantable birth control perforated the uterus and migrated to other parts of the body.
Cases pending throughout the country are being transfered to U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings. Such consolidation is designed to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of witnesses, the parties, lawyers and the courts.
In an Order (PDF) issued on April 12, Judge Seibel called for both sides to submit position papers by May 11, outlining their understanding of the facts involved in Mirena litigation and a list of all cases involving Mirena migrations or perforations pending in federal or state courts nationwide.
Judge Seibel also scheduled an Initial Conference for 10:30 a.m. on May 17, at the Charles L. Brieant Courthouse in White Plains, New York. The lawyers are expected to brief the court on the status of the cases and discuss the organizational structure for the consolidated proceedings moving forward.
Lawyers Seeking Leadership Roles in Mirena MDL
Prior to the scheduled conference, lawyers representing women who suffered a Mirena injury have been ordered to meet and submit three recommendations for Plaintiffs’ lead counsel and liaison counsel, which are leadership positions that will be filled by attorneys who will take actions that benefit all women involved in the litigation.
Judge Seibel also indicated that counsel should be prepared to discuss the need for a Plaintiffs’ steering committee or other committees, which would involve Mirena IUD lawyers appointed to conduct common discovery and other functions during the pretrial proceedings.
All pending discovery and motion deadlines have been stayed by the court pending the Initial Conference. However, Judge Seibel indicated that the parties are allowed to continue with voluntary discovery in cases.
At least two of the lawsuits transferred into the Mirena MDL are reportedly at an advanced stage, with fact discovery nearly complete. Judge Seibel indicated that Bayer should prepare to make such discovery available and usable in all other cases in the MDL following discussion at the Initial Conference.
Mirena Migration Lawsuits
Mirena is a long-acting form of birth control manufactured by Bayer Healthcare, which involves a T-shaped plastic device that is implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
While the IUD has been promoted as a safe and effective alternative to the daily birth control pill, a number of women have reported suffering devastating injuries when the Mirena IUD perforated the uterus and migrated to other parts of the body.
Nearly 50 complaints have been filed in 17 different federal courts throughout the country, all involving similar allegations that women suffered Mirena IUD injuries after the device migrated out of position.
It is expected that the number of complaints brought throughout the country will continue to increase in the coming months, and as Mirena injury lawyers review and file new lawsuits, they will be transferred to Judge Seibel’s court for coordinated handling before trial.
Bayer opposed the formation of the Mirena MDL, arguing that such a consolidated proceeding would prejudice their defense by delaying the start of the first trial dates. The drug maker indicated that several cases were nearly ready for trial, and that they would be faced with “starting over” with an MDL. Bayer also indicated that an MDL would encourage the filing of “marginal” cases, which may require the drug maker to start negotiating Mirena settlements for business reasons, instead of legal reasons.