This past Thursday, March 21, 2013, a panel of federal judges, known as the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, convened in San Diego to hear plaintiffs' request for consolidation and coordination of Mirena lawsuits.
The dangerous medical device attorneys at Jones Ward PLC were in attendance. The Judges heard from plaintiffs' lawyers across the country regarding whether the cases should be consolidated and if so, which federal court (and judge) they should be coordinated under.
Plaintiffs' attorneys argued that the lawsuits should be consolidated for purposes of cost, efficiency and to avoid inconsistent rulings across jurisdictions determining Mirena cases. Plaintiffs in Ohio argued for consolidation of the cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. Others argued for federal courts in Pennsylvania or Rhode Island.
Bayer--the manufacturer of Mirena--opposes the request for consolidation, despite having previously submitted an application to the New Jersey Supreme Court requesting consolidation in the Middlesex Superior Court in New Jersey.
Specifically, Bayer claims it wants to "vindicate its product" and that an individual case in a South Carolina federal court is nearly ready for trial. In other words, Bayer wants to proceed with the South Carolina case and argued coordination of that case, and of others, will prevent it from doing so.
Bayer also claims that perforation injuries caused by its Mirena IUD have been warned about for decades, and that doctors are well-aware of the issue before prescribing Mirena. It is apparent that Bayer will claim that because doctors are warned and educated about perforation, that it cannot be liable for Mirena's injuries.
However, as much as Bayer protests, Mirena's label (that must be provided to doctors and must warn of all clinically significant adverse events) does not warn that Mirena may "spontaneously" migrate from its intended position in the uterus and that this post-insertion migrate often leads to perforation of the uterus, cervix, or other areas within the abdominal cavity.
A multidistrict litigation, or MDL, is similar to a class action in that cases involving similar facts (and in these case, the same IUD) are coordinated under one federal judge. This allows for a streamlined pre-trial process. Plaintiffs may share resources and information. This greatly preserves costs. However, if the cases go to trial, they are generally tried individually. And unlike a class action, if the cases get settled, they are settled based on individual injuries and damages.
Jones Ward has been following the Mirena litigation closely. We will be sure to update you once the panel makes its decision. We are currently evaluating Mirena cases involving a variety of injuries. For more information, contact attorney A. Layne Stackhouse at email@example.com.