Status of Paragard IUD Lawsuits To Be Reviewed with Court During MDL Conference

Judge to meet with parties today to discuss future of the litigation, while yet to rule on a motion to dismiss argued last month by makers of the Paragard IUD

With nearly 600 Paragard IUD lawsuits pending in the federal court system, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the centralized proceedings is holding a status conference today which is expected to help continue moving the cases forward toward the first bellwether trials.

There are currently at least 570 product liability lawsuits filed against makers of the Paragard IUD birth control implant, each involving similar allegations that women suffered painful and debilitating injuries when the small plastic device fractured as doctors attempted to remove it, often resulting in the need for emergency surgery to retrieve pieces of the IUD, which may cause severe internal injuries.

The Paragard IUD is wrapped in copper, and placed in the uterus to provide women long-acting protection against pregnancy for up to ten years. Although, the procedure is marketed as safe and reversible, allowing doctors to remove the IUD during an out-patient office procedure when women no longer want the birth control, lawsuits allege that the product is defective and prone to break during removal.

Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, consolidated pretrial proceedings were established in December 2020, transferring all pending and new cases filed throughout the federal court system to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings before U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin.

On October 18, the court released an agenda (PDF) for a status conference being held today, which will include a report on all cases pending in state and federal court and their current status. This will include the status of the number of cases filed, ongoing negotiations over plaintiffs’ fact sheets, as well as other issues which need to be addressed before the cases can move forward.

Last month during a status conference, the Court heard arguments raised by the manufacturers in a motion to dismiss the Paragard IUD litigation, claiming the complaints are an improper “shotgun” pleading, do not allege facts that could result in a plausible claim for relief, that their claims are not specific enough, and that the plaintiffs’ defective design and failure-to-warn claims are preempted by federal law. However, according to minutes issued after the hearing, Judge May only said that she would take the motion “under advisement,” and would issue a written order in the future, which has yet to occur.

Unless Judge May takes the unexpected step of granting the motion, it is expected that the Court 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 negotiations to reach Paragard IUD settlements that resolve the litigation and avoid the need for hundreds of cases to go before federal juries nationwide in future years. However, with Paragard IUD injury lawyers continuing to review and file claims on behalf of women who experienced problems, the size of the litigation is expected to increase over the coming months, and is ultimately expected to include several thousand complaints will be brought by women who suffered injuries when the device broke during removal.

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