MDL Panel Denies Consolidation of Qualitest Birth Control Pill Claims

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has rejected a recent request to establish consolidated proceedings before one judge for all federal Qualitest birth control lawsuits, which have been filed over packaging problems with the pills that left many women unprotected against pregnancy.

Following oral arguments last month, the panel of federal judges determined that there are currently too few complaints pending to justify the consolidated management provided by a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).

In April, a motion was filed with the U.S. JPML, seeking to centralize all lawsuits filed over the recalled Qualitest birth control pills before one judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, to reduce duplicative discovery in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

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All of the cases stem from a Qualitest birth control recall issued in September 2011, after it was discovered that some of the pill-containing blister packages were rotated 180 degrees during packaging, reversing the weekly tablet orientation and leading some women to take the pills in the wrong order.

The packaging error left women without birth control protection, and reportedly led to a number of unintended pregnancies. It was the third Qualitest drug recall over labeling problems that year. In June 2011, a manufacturing problem led to labels being swapped between bottles of generic Vicodin and Fioricet. On February 5, 2011, three lots of generic Vicodin and Phenobarbital were recalled after a bottle of Qualitest generic Vicodin was found with a Phenobarbital label.

At the time the motion was filed, at least four complaints had been filed nationwide, and plaintiffs indicated that they were aware of at least 113 individuals with nearly identical claims that had not yet been filed.

In an order (PDF) issued August 12, the U.S. JPML denied the request, indicating that centralized management was not needed at this point in the litigation. The Panel pointed out that at least two of the four cases included in the request have since settled, and indicated that they were not persuaded by the possibility that 113 more cases may be filed, since all of the lawsuits appear to be handled by the same firm.

“Although these actions share factual questions arising out of the design, manufacturing, and packaging of the Qualitest birth control products, we are not persuaded that….centralization is necessary either to assure the convenience of the parties and witnesses or for the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the panel concluded. “It appears that individualized facts — particularly relating to whether each plaintiff received an improperly packaged Qualitest birth control product and whether she became pregnant as a result of taking the pills in the wrong order — will predominate over the common factual issues alleged by plaintiffs.”


  • donnaDecember 14, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I took these pills as directed and got pregnant then miscarried I was 8weeks pregnant.

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