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Mirena Injury Lawsuits in MDL and NJ State Court Begin to Mount

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The number of product liability lawsuits filed on behalf of women who suffered injuries from Mirena IUD birth control continues to increase, with nearly 400 complaints now filed nationwide.

Amid the mounting litigation over Mirena, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated proceedings in the federal court system in April, centralizing all lawsuits filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Known as an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, the cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York.

At the time the Mirena MDL was established, there were approximately 50 cases filed throughout the federal court system. However, according to the latest case list (PDF) released this month by the U.S. JPML, the number of cases transferred to Judge Seibel is already 159.

Similar centralized proceedings for Mirena injury lawsuits have also been established in New Jersey state court, which is where Bayer’s U.S. headquarters are based. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to establish an MCL, or multicounty litigation, for all Mirena cases in May 2013. However, according to the latest case list (PDF) released by the New Jersey courts earlier this month, there are already at least 215 cases centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergen County.

As more women contact Mirena injury lawyers over the coming months and years, the total number of lawsuits is expected to continue to rise, with some estimates suggesting that thousands of cases will ultimately be filed.

Mirena IUD Birth Control Injuries

Mirena is a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, which is also often referred to as an IUD, or intrauterine device. The small T-shaped birth control is inserted into the woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

Bayer introduced Mirena in 2000, aggressively promoting the IUD as a hassle-free form of birth control. However, a growing number of women and their doctors have reported problems where the Mirena IUD migrated from its initial implant location, perforating the uterus and other organs, causing infections and abscesses, and leaving women unknowingly unprotected against the chance of pregnancy.

Since 2000, more than 70,000 adverse events have been filed with the FDA involving Mirena IUD complications, including at least 5,000 cases involving women who indicated that Mirena migrated out of place since 2008, and 1,322 reports where the Mirena IUD punctured the uterus.

The lawsuits filed against Bayer all involve similar allegations, where plaintiffs claim that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn about the risk of spontaneous migration, which can occur months or even years after implant.

While the Mirena warning label does indication that perforation of the uterus is a risk, the language provided by the drug maker suggests that it may only occur during implantation. However, many women have discovered that the Mirena IUD was missing months, or even years, after implant, often resulting in serious infections or other injuries after the implant perforated the uterine wall and migrated to other areas of the body. In many cases, surgical removal of the Mirena IUD is necessary.

First Trial Dates for Mirena Lawsuits

While the number of cases filed nationwide continues to increase, the centralized proceedings in New Jersey state court and the federal court system remain in the very early stages.

The consolidated proceedings established in the federal courts and in New Jersey state court are designed to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

According to a case management order issued last month by Judge Seibel, the first Mirena trials are unlikely to begin until late 2015.

In complex product liability litigation, where a large number of cases are filed by plaintiffs who allege that they suffered similar injuries from a single medical device or drug, it is common for a small group of cases to be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout other cases.

Following discovery and any early trial dates scheduled in the MDL, if a Mirena settlement agreement is not reached, each individual case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial.

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