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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to consolidate all Mirena IUD injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, centralizing the cases before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
According to a Transfer Order (PDF) issued on April 8, all product liability lawsuits filed over injuries caused by the migration of a Mirena Intrauterine Device (IUD) will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings.
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 with 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.
As the birth control implant travelled outside the uterus, women allege that they suffered severe internal injuries, infections, and other problems. In most cases, the Mirena IUD had to be surgically removed and women have often been left with permanent injury.
The lawsuits allege that Bayer failed to properly research the risk of complications or adequately warn women about the potential for suffering a Mirena IUD injury, which may occur long after the device is implanted.
Mirena MDL Opposed By Bayer
Centralizing the Mirena litigation before one judge is designed to reduce duplicative discovery, eliminate conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts. 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.
The panel disagreed, saying there were enough common questions of fact to warrant consolidation.
“With respect to the two actions that have reached an advanced stage of fact discovery, the transferee judge is in the best position to incorporate those actions in a manner that accommodates the progress already made while also addressing the issues raised in the mor recently filed actions,” wrote Judge Kathryn Vratil, Acting Chairman of the Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. “It may be advisable to establish a separate track of proceedings if those actions are, as defendant contends, nearly ready for trial; however, the degree of consolidation or coordination is a matter soundly dedicated to the discretion of the transferee judge.”
The JPML did exclude one case from the MDL, based on claims raised in the complaint that side effects of the Mirena could cause autoimmune disorders. The panel stated that the MDL will be limited to Mirena migration injury lawsuits only.
The Southern District of New York was selected by the panel as the most appropriate transfer venue because Bayer Healthcare LLC is located in New York and other Bayer entities are located nearby in New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Therefore, primary witnesses and documents common to many of the cases will be located in New York and the surrounding area.