Yaz Litigation Consolidated in Southern District of Illinois
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has ordered that all federal Yaz and Yasmin birth control pill lawsuits will be consolidated and centralized for pretrial litigation in the Southern District of Illinois.
According to an order issued October 1, 2009, there are currently 32 Yasmin or Yaz cases pending that involve sufficiently common questions of fact to support centralization in a multidistrict litigation, or MDL, for pretrial proceedings.
The Yaz / Yasmin litigation will be centralized before U.S. District Judge David R. Herndon in East St. Louis for coordinated handling, as the Panel indicates Judge Herndon is not actively presiding over another MDL and has a current caseload that can handle the assignment. In addition, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois was identified as a “geographically central forum” for the litigation, which involves lawsuits pending in many different districts.
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All of the cases involve allegations that the popular birth control pills containing the new progestin drospirenone increase the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolisms, deep vein thrombosis, gallbladder disease and sudden death from Yaz or Yasmin.
The complaints allege that Bayer Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures both Yas and Yasmin, failed to adequately research their products, fraudulently concealed the risk of injury, negligently failed to warn about the degree of risk women faced and misrepresented the safety of the drugs in comparison to other available birth control pills.
Yaz and Yasmin both contain a combination of ethinyl estradiol, which is used in many oral contraceptives, and drospirenone, a unique type of progestin that is only found in these drugs and a generic Yasmin version sold under the brand name Ocella. Drospirenone, or drsp, 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 hyperckalemia, which is linked to potentially life-threatening heart problems and other health issues.
Consolidation of the Yaz litigation is designed to promote the efficient handling of the lawsuits and serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses. Transferring all of the cases to one court for coordinated handling also eliminates the need for duplicate discovery on issues that are common to many cases and the potential for inconsistent pretrial rulings from different judges in separate district courts.
As Yaz and Yasmin lawyers file additional cases in the future over problems with the birth control pills, the lawsuits will be transferred into the MDL. If the cases do not settle or otherwise resolve during pretrial litigation, they will be returned to the district where they were filed for individual trials.
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