Mirena IUD Litigation Moving Forward In New Jersey State Court

Following the centralization of all lawsuits over Mirena IUD birth control in New Jersey state court, the judge presiding over the consolidated proceedings has appointed several attorneys to serve in leadership roles and directed the parties to meet this month to reach agreements on several procedural matters.

The first Case Management Conference was held last week before Judge Brian R. Martinotti in the Superior Court of New Jersey for Bergen County, where all Mirena lawsuits filed throughout the state court system have been centralized for coordinated management as part of an MCL, or Multi-County Litigation.

The Mirena IUD litigation in New Jersey consists of dozens of complaints filed throughout the state court system, which all involve similar allegations that Bayer failed to adequately warn about the risk of the implanted birth control device puncturing the uterus and migrating within the body.

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Mirena Lawsuits

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

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In an Order (PDF) issued July 1, Judge Martinotti established a committee of Plaintiffs’ lawyers, which will take certain actions during pretrial proceedings that benefit all women who have filed a lawsuit after experiencing complications with a Mirena IUD.

Three attorneys have been appointed as Co-Lead Counsel in the state court litigation, including Gregory Spizer, Carmen Scott and Raymond Silverman. In addition, David Buchanan has been appointed as chair of a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and as Liaison Counsel, who will coordinate information between the parties, the New Jersey Court and the federal Mirena MDL (Multi-District Litigation) that has been established in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Within the next 30 days, the parties have been directed to meet and attempt to reach an agreement regarding a short form complaint that can be used by Plaintiffs bringing new lawsuits, the content of fact sheets to be exchanged by the parties, terms of a protective order and the status, scope and timing for discovery. Information on the status of stipulations, anticipated motions and any Mirena settlement negotiations will also be discussed.

Judge Martinotti has scheduled the next Case Management Conference in the New Jersey state court litigation for August 13.

Allegations Raised in Mirena IUD Lawsuits

Mirena is a long-acting form of birth control, known as an intra-uterine device or IUD. It is a small t-shaped piece of plastic that releases estrogen, and is designed to be implanted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

While the birth control implant is marketed as easily removable and as a way to free women from worrying about taking a daily birth control pill, the lawsuits allege that women have suffered devastating injuries when the Mirena IUD migrated and perforated the uterus, often resulting in infection and the need for surgical removal of the birth control implant.

More than 70,000 reports have been filed with the FDA involving problems and complications with Mirena IUD since 2000, including thousands of reports where Mirena punctured the uterus or migrated out of position.

Bayer has indicated that it intends to defend the lawsuits, maintaining that the warnings provided with Mirena indicate that there is a risk of perforation. However, plaintiffs allege that the warning suggests the risk only exists at the time the IUD is implanted, and many women have suffered “spontaneous migration”, where the IUD perforates the uterus and migrates to other areas of the body long after it has been in place.

The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to consolidated the Mirena litigation before Judge Martinotti in May 2013, following requests by both Bayer and plaintiffs who had filed cases throughout the state.

In addition to the New Jersey state court litigation, lawsuits have also been filed against Bayer in U.S. District Courts throughout the country raising similar allegations.

In April 2013, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established similar consolidated pretrial proceedings in the federal court system, centralizing the cases as part of an MDL or Multi-District Litigation before U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel in the Southern District of New York.

Last month, a small group of lawyers were also appointed to leadership roles in the federal Mirena MDL.

Although there are currently only a few hundred cases filed nationwide, it is expected that thousands of cases will ultimately be filed as Mirena IUD lawyers continue to review and file cases in courts nationwide. Much of the litigation is expected to be brought in New Jersey state court, which is where Bayer’s U.S. headquarters are located.


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