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As the number of product liability lawsuits over side effects of Mirena IUD birth control continues to mount in state and federal court, discovery continues as the parties exchange information in preparation for early trial dates.
There are currently more than 600 Mirena IUD lawsuits pending nationwide, which all involve similar allegations that women suffered painful and debilitating injuries when their Mirena IUD birth control perforated the uterus, causing internal injuries, migrating to other areas of the body, leading to infections and often resulting in surgical removal of the Mirena implant.
About half of the pending cases are filed in the federal court system, where the Mirena litigation has been centralized for pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
Most of the remaining cases pending nationwide are filed in New Jersey state court, which is where the U.S. headquarters are located for Bayer, the manufacturer of the birth control device. Similar consolidation has been established in New Jersey, where the cases filed throughout the state have been centralized before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Bergan County as part of an MCL, or multicounty Litigation.
The consolidation of pretrial proceedings in New Jersey and the federal court system is designed to streamline the discovery process and establish a series of early trial dates, known as “bellwether” cases, which will help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout a number of cases.
Nearly identical case management orders have been issued regarding the Mirena discovery process in the federal and New Jersey state court litigation. Bayer was required to produce initial discovery documents earlier this month, and plaintiffs are expected to serve a second wave of discovery requests by the end of next month.
Mirena Birth Control Problems
Mirena birth control 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.
Bayer has attempted to defend the cases, arguing that information about the risk of perforation was included on the warnings provided with the IUD. However, plaintiffs maintain that the previous warnings were vague and misleading, suggesting that the risk of injury only exists at the time of insertion. Most of the complaints involve women who found that the Mirena migrated spontaneously, often long after the IUD was successfully placed in the uterus.
Following a series of “bellwether” trials that are expected to be scheduled in New Jersey and the federal court system, if Mirena settlement agreements are not reached in a large number of cases, hundreds of individual cases may be set for individual trial dates.