Schedule For Preparing First Paragard IUD Lawsuit Bellwether Trial in MDL Extended
The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Paragard IUD lawsuits, which have been brought by women who suffered painful and debilitating injuries when the birth control implants fractured while being removed, has granted an extension that will provide the parties more time to prepare for the first bellwether trial, which will likely not go before a jury until early 2025.
The Paragard IUD is a small plastic device wrapped in copper, which is 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 filed throughout the federal court system allege women experienced Paragard IUD fractures as doctors attempted to remove it, often resulting in the need for emergency surgery to retrieve pieces of the IUD, which may cause devastating internal injuries.
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 Judge Leigh Martin May as part of an MDL (multidistrict litigation).
Paragard Bellwether Trial Delays
As part of the pretrial proceedings, Judge May has established a bellwether program, where a small group of representative cases are being prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to react to certain evidence and expert witness testimony that will be repeated throughout thousands of cases if Paragard settlements are not reached.
Judge May previously indicated that the first Paragard bellwether trial would begin early this year, and a group of 10 potential bellwether trials were selected by the parties to go through case-specific discovery and depositions in preparation for trial.
However, in August, Judge May issued an amended scheduling order which pushed the first bellwether trial back from its original March 4, 2024, trial date until October 28, 2024. The order did not provide a reason for the six-month delay, and now the start of the first bellwether case has been extended again.
New Paragard Bellwether Trial Scheduling Order
On January 2, Judge May issued a case management order (PDF) which contains a second amended scheduling order, pushing back the close of case-specific fact discovery for the first bellwether trial pool cases another two months, from February 9 to April 9.
By that date, the parties will meet and confer to make alternate strikes of the bellwether pool until only five cases remain. Two more cases will be struck by April 12, leaving three Paragard IUD bellwether prospects. The parties must tell the judge by April 15 which of the cases the court should choose for the first bellwether trial.
Close of expert discovery for the first early test case has been pushed back a month, from May 10 to June 9.
Daubert motions are now due by July 23, and a consolidated pretrial order deadline is due by November 15, 2024. While the pretrial conference, final pretrial conference and first bellwether trial start dates have not yet been scheduled, they will likely not begin until mid-2025.
January 2024 Paragard IUD Lawsuit Update
According to the latest docket report (PDF) issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on January 2, there are more than 2,400 Paragard IUD lawsuits pending before Judge May.
Each of the claims raise nearly identical allegations, indicating that the manufacturer sold a defective and unreasonably dangerous birth control implant, which was prone to break while doctors attempted to remove it. Throughout the litigation, it is expected that similar evidence and testimony will be presented by different women who experienced complications, indicating that there is a propensity for Paragard IUD breakage during removal, which the manufacturers have failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about.
Although the outcome of these Paragard bellwether trials will not have any binding impact on other claimants, the cases are expected to have a large impact on any negotiations for a potential global Paragard IUD settlement that would avoid the need for hundreds of individual cases to be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for individual trial dates.
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