Lawyers for Bayer Pharmaceuticals argued against consolidating into one court the over 40 lawsuits lodged against the company by women who have had serious health problems after using the company’s intrauterine birth control device (IUD) Mirena.
Women across the country have filed numerous claims against the German-based company, alleging the makers of the birth control failed to adequately warn that the device could spontaneously migrate to other parts of the body and perforate a woman’s uterus. Mirena was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000 and is one of only two IUD’s approved for use in the United States.
At a hearing on Thursday, March 21st before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) in San Diego California, plaintiffs attorneys argued that the cases should all be consolidated for efficiency’s sake in front of one judge. Bayer’s lawyer’s (Shook, Hardy & Bacon) argued that consolidating the cases would not create efficiency and would, in fact, slow the entire litigation process.
Attroneys represeting clients who have been injured using Mirena believe that by consolidating pretrial preparations potential plaintiffs could share costs that they otherwise couldn’t afford alone. One firm has evaluated over 800 potential claims in recent months, and selected the strongest cases involving uterine perforation and migration. They have asked the panel to centralize the cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio in Cleveland.
Bayer stated in its brief filed with the panel that the formation of a MDL would incentivize the plaintiffs to file more suits than have already been brought forth. “The creation of an MDL would potentially make it easy for plaintiffs’ counsel to overlook the flaws in any individual case, leading to the filing of cases that they would not have filed, but for the existence of an MDL. This could inundate a defendant with hundreds or thousands of cases, thereby forcing settlement for business rather than legal reasons.”
Whether a MDL will be formed has yet to be decided although the judicial panel charged with making such a decision has recently become less receptive to centralize product liability litigation. In August 2012, the Judicial Panel refused to centralize four lawsuits against Intuitive Surgical Inc over the company’s DaVinci Robotic Surgical System, even though, in that case, both the plaintiffs and defendants agreed to the multidistrict proceeding.
It has become increasingly common for defendants to oppose the formation of MDL proceedings. Defendants see this as a tool to expand litigations and pressure companies into settling, according to lawyers who represent both plaintiffs and defendants in product liability lawsuits.
“Women who have suffered complications from Mirena usage, including migration of the device or perforation of the uterus, should not be discouraged by Bayer’s motion against a multidistrict litigation. This birth control device can cause serious health problems, and Bayer arguing against this litigation does not take away from the merit of a case. Anyone injured using this product should seek appropriate legal counsel ,” said Don Nolan of Nolan Law Group.
The lawyers at Nolan Law Group are currently evaluating Mirena IUD cases. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury after using Mirena, please Contact Us or call 312-630-4000.