Motion Filed to Consolidate Yasmin and Yaz Lawsuits in Federal MDL

A petition has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate and centralize all federal Yasmin and Yaz suits in one court for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

There are currently at least 32 federal court cases pending against Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corporation involving their Yaz and Yasmin birth control. The lawsuits all contain similar allegations that inadequate warnings were provided that Yaz and Yasmin side effects may increase the risk of potentially life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, strokes, gallbladder disease, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE) and sudden death.

Lawyers representing plaintiffs in 23 of the cases filed a motion on July 24 asking that all of the lawsuits be joined together in an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, as they involve common questions of fact. Consolidation in an MDL would help avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings among the different cases, repeat discovery on issues common to all cases and would serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the court.

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The motion asks that the Yasmin / Yaz litigation be centralized before Chief Judge James G. Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in Toledo, where most of the pending complaints have been filed.

Both Yaz and Yasmin are combined hormonal oral contraceptives that contain ethinyl estradiol and the progestin drospirenone, which is not used in any other birth control pills other than the generic drug Ocella.

The Yaz lawsuits and Yasmin lawsuits allege that the presence of drospirenone make the birth control pills more dangerous than other available oral contraceptives, yet Bayer failed to disclose the risk and misrepresented the safety of the drugs. Drospirenone works against the body’s regulation of the balance between salt and water, which can lead to elevated potassium levels and cause serious heart problems and the other health issues linked to the drugs.

If an MDL is formed for the Yaz and Yasmin litigation, all of the cases filed in different districts throughout the United States will be transferred to one court for pretrial proceedings. Even if the cases are consolidated, they remain individual lawsuits and are not considered part of a Yasmin / Yaz class action lawsuit. If the cases do not otherwise resolve during pretrial litigation, the individual lawsuits would ultimately be returned back to the court where they were filed for trial.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will scheduled a hearing to consider whether consolidation is appropriate, but it is not expected that will occur before late September 2009.


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