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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all Mirena pseudotumor cerebri (PTC) lawsuits has appointed a small group of attorneys to serve in various leadership roles, as part of the recently consolidated pretrial proceedings in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
In April 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) centralized all product liability cases filed throughout the federal court system over Bayer Healthcare’s failure to warn about the neurological side effects of the Mirena birth control implant, which has been linked to a serious medical condition involving the build up of fluid pressure around the brain.
There are currently almost 200 complaints that have been transferred to U.S. District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer in the Southern District of New York for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. However, as Mirena PTC lawyers continue to review and file claims in the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that several thousand complaints may be included in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
To foster greater coordination during the litigation, Judge Engelmayer recently appointed a group of attorneys to serve in various leadership roles during the coordinated proceedings, taking certain actions that will benefit all plaintiffs during discovery an pretrial litigation.
In an order (PDF) issued last week, the responsibilities were outlined for attorneys serving as Co-Lead Counsel, Plaintiffs’ Liaison Counsel and as members of a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and Plaintiffs Steering Committee.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge Englemayer will establish a bellwether program, where lawyers will prepare a small group of cases for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
Each of the complaints in the litigation raise similar questions of fact and law, indicating that Bayer withheld important warnings from consumers and the medical community about risk that their birth control implant may cause a dangerous build up of fluid pressure around the brain, known as pseudotumor cerebri (PTC).
Plaintiffs argue that users should have been warned to seek immediate medical attention if they experience severe headaches, vision problems or other symptoms of PTC after a Mirena IUD is implanted.
Mirena is a small, T-shaped device that is placed into the uterus to provide protection against pregnancy for up to five years. Known as an intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS), the polyethylene frame for Mirena contains a steroid reservoir that release levonorgestrel, which is a second generation progestin used in many forms of birth control.
While other forms of birth control that involve levonorgestrel have been associated with a risk of pseudotumor cerebri (PTC), the Mirena warnings have failed to alert women and physicians about risk that the birth control implant may cause a buildup of fluid pressure around the brain. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of the intracranial hypertension from Mirena is critical to avoid permanent damage to the optic nerve.
Following the coordinated litigation in the MDL, if Mirena PTC lawyers are unable to negotiate settlements with Bayer, or the litigation is not otherwise resolved, each of the claims may eventually be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial date in the future.