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A panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments in December over whether to consolidate and centralize all ParaGard IUD lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system before one U.S. District Judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
ParaGard is a copper intrauterine device (IUD), which is implanted into the uterus to provide long-term birth control up to 10 years. It involves a T-shaped plastic frame wrapped in copper wire coils, which is designed to produce an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that is toxic to sperm and prevents pregnancy.
While Paragard is intended to be easily removable and allow women to conceive after it is explanted, dozens of lawsuits are now being filed by women who indicate that the IUD broke during explant procedures, causing severe internal injuries and often resulting in the need for a total hysterectomy or other invasive surgical procedures that impact their ability to have children in the future.
There are currently at least 55 complaints involving problems with Paragard pending in 29 different U.S. District Courts nationwide, each involving nearly identical allegations that the copper IUD is unreasonably dangerous and defective, since it is prone to fracturing during removal in some cases.
Last month, plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer all Paragard lawsuits, calling for all of the federal litigation to be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts, avoid duplicative discovery and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties and the judicial system.
In an October 22 notice of hearing session (PDF), the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) announced it will hear oral arguments over consolidation of the ParaGard lawsuits on December 3 at the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, DC. The hearing will be conducted by videoconference or teleconference, to follow current social distancing guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
In complex product liability litigation, where a large number of claims are filed throughout the federal court system by individuals who suffered similar injuries as a result of the same or similar products or venues, it is common for the federal court system to centralize the litigation for pretrial proceedings. However, if Paragard settlements are not reached during discovery or following a series of early “bellwether” trials, each claim may later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed to go before a jury.