Mirena Injury Lawsuits Selected for Bellwether Trial Date in New Jersey

With hundreds of Mirena IUD lawsuits pending nationwide involving women who suffered severe internal injuries after receiving the birth control implant, a New Jersey judge has ordered the parties to select a group of 14 cases that will be prepared for a second bellwether trial at the state court level.

There are currently more than 3,000 product liability lawsuits pending against Bayer Healthcare nationwide involving women who suffered a Mirena injury, with about 1,800 of the cases centralized for pretrial proceedings in New Jersey state court before Superior Court Judge Brian Matinotti, as part of a multi-county litigation, or MCL.

All of the complaints raise similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of problems with the Mirena IUD birth control, which is a small, T-shaped implant designed to be placed into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

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Mirena Lawsuits

Migrations and perforations caused by Mirena birth control have resulted in lawsuits nationwide.

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In recent years, women throughout the U.S. have filed lawsuits that indicate they suffered painful and devastating internal injury from Mirena, where the implant spontaneously punctured the uterus and migrated to other areas of the body.

Mirena Bellwether Trials

As part of the coordinated handling of the Mirena litigation in New Jersey state court, Judge Martinotti has established a process for preparing small groups of cases for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” trials, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout a number of cases.

In June 2014, Judge Martinotti identified a group of cases that are being prepared for a Mirena trial that is expected to begin later this year.

In a case management order (PDF) issued on March 17, Judge Martinotti ordered the parties to select a second group of cases that will be prepared for another trial date in New Jersey. Plaintiffs’ attorneys and defense attorneys have each been asked to select seven cases by July 2, which will go through case-specific discovery in preparation for a second Mirena “bellwether” trial in the state.

While the outcomes of these early trial dates are not binding on other cases, they are designed to help the parties evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and may help facilitate a potential Mirena settlement that would avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to go before juries.

Judge Martinotti indicates that the cases selected for this “Second Disposition Pool” should not include cases “presenting unique or idiosyncratic facts that would render the results of these cases unenlightening.”

All case-specific discovery in this second group of cases is to be completed by February 18, 2016. The parties will then each select four cases from the pool by March 4, 2016 and will then have until March 11 to veto two of the other side’s selections, resulting in a final pool of four cases that will remain eligible for the second bellwether trial, which is expected to begin in the second half of 2016. However, a trial date has not been announced by the Court.

A similar series of Mirena “bellwether” trials are scheduled in the federal court system, where about 1,200 additional cases are centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as part of a multi-district litigation, or MDL. The first federal trial is currently scheduled to begin in March 2016.


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