Yaz Bellwether Trials in New Jersey Set To Begin September 2012

The first trial dates for any Yaz lawsuits, Yasmin lawsuit or Ocella lawsuit pending in New Jersey state court will begin in the fall of 2012, with at least two cases to be selected as test cases out of hundreds of claims pending in the state.

There are about 1,000 product liability lawsuits pending in New Jersey state courts involving allegations that women suffered serious or fatal injuries as a result of side effects of Yaz, Yasmin or Ocella birth control, which are all made by Bayer with the fourth-generation progestin drospirenone.

All of the suits involves allegations that Bayer failed to properly research their birth control pills or adequately warn about the increased risk of serious and potentially life-threatening injuries from the birth control pills containing drospirenone, such as a stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or gallbladder disease.

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Drospirenone impacts the body’s normal mechanism of regulating a balance between salt and water, which could result in elevated potassium levels. This can cause a condition known as hyperkalemia, which is linked to potentially life-threatening heart problems and other health issues.

According to a case management order issued July 8 by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Brian R. Martinotti, the first Yaz trial in New Jersey state court should be ready to go before a jury on September 10, 2012. A second trial date has been set for November 27, 2012.

The first cases to be tried have not yet been chosen, but the parties have been directed to identify a pool of 18 cases that may be selected for an early trial date, known as bellwether cases. Judge Martinotti has asked each side to select three cases involving allegations of pulmonary embolism, three involving claims of gall bladder injury and three involving allegations of venous thromboembolism, such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

In addition to the cases pending in New Jersey state court, more than 6,000 other cases are pending in federal court and other state court systems. The federal Yaz litigation has been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before Judge David R. Herndon in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

At least three trial trial dates are anticipated in the federal MDL, one involving a pulmonary embolism, one involving a gallbladder injury and one involving a venous thromboembolism, with the first Yaz trial in federal court expected to begin early next year.

In complex litigation involving a large number of claims with similar underlying facts, early trials are useful in helping the parties gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and may help facilitate a possible Yaz settlement agreement that includes other lawsuits in the litigation.


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