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A recently filed product liability lawsuit alleges the Paragard IUD is prone to break during removal, resulting in severe and potentially devastating injuries; a risk which was not adequately disclosed to women considering the long-acting birth control implant.
Pamela Russ filed the complaint (PDF) last month in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, indicating one of the arms of a Paragard IUD broke off inside her body, which doctors were unable to retrieve during subsequent surgeries.
Paragard is an intrauterine device (IUD), which is designed to provide protection against pregnancy that last for up to ten years. The t-shaped plastic frame is wrapped in copper coils and placed into the uterus to produce an inflammatory reaction that prevents a woman from becoming pregnant. However, according to marketing information provided by the manufacturer, the device is supposed to be easily removable, allowing women to conceive in the future.
Russ indicates she decided to have a Paragard IUD implanted in May 2020, believing it was a safe and effective form of birth control. However, when she went to have the device retrieved in December 2018, the Paragard IUD broke during removal and only had one arm and the stem intact. Several days later, doctors made another attempt to remove the broken arm of the Paragard implant, but failed.
The lawsuit alleges a defective and unreasonably dangerous design make the Paragard IUD prone to break, often resulting in the need for women to undergo additional surgeries or procedures to remove fragments, or a total hysterectomy that impacts their ability to have children in the future. However, information about the risk was withheld by the manufacturer for years.
“Prior to her procedures, Plaintiff and her doctors were provided with no warning from the Defendants of the risk of ParaGard IUD failure and injury, nor were Plaintiff and her doctors provided with adequate warning of the risk of removal of ParaGard IUD,” Russ’s lawsuit states. “This information was known or knowable to the Defendants.”
Given similar questions of fact and law raised in ParaGard lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) determined last month that the cases will all be centralized before U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May in the Northern District of Georgia, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
As part of the management of the litigation, it is expected Judge May will establish a “bellwether” process, where a small group of representative claims will be prepared for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout other cases.
While the outcome for these early trials would not be binding on other plaintiffs, they may facilitate ParaGard IUD settlements. which would avoid the need for dozens, or possibly hundreds, of additional trials to be scheduled throughout the federal court system.