March 20, 2013 — The first bellwether trial dates for federal NuvaRing lawsuits have been pushed back to October 21, 2013. The extra time will allow time for more plaintiffs to join the litigation. It also gives Merck & Co. and Organon Pharmaceuticals more time to negotiate a potential settlement agreement.
The first NuvaRing lawsuit in state court will begin in May 2013, and decisions in that case could help expedite a settlement agreement with nearly 1,300 plaintiffs.
The order announcing the new trial date was filed in March 8 by Judge Rodney W. Sippel, who oversees the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) pending int he U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Mississippi. Nearly 1,100 NuvaRing lawsuits are currently pending in the MDL, with an additional 200 lawsuits pending in state court.
Judge Sippel did not provide any reason for delaying the bellwether trials, which are “representative” cases that help gauge a jury’s evaluation of issues that are similar to many other cases in a large, complex litigation. This is the second time bellwether trials have been postponed in the NuvaRing MDL. Bellwether trials were originally scheduled for May 2013. In November 2012, Judge Sippel delayed the trials until July 8, 2013.
Although the federal litigation is now being delayed until at least October, the state court litigation is running on schedule. A NuvaRing lawsuit filed in New Jersey state court is scheduled for trial on May 6. It will be the first NuvaRing lawsuit to go to trial. All of the lawsuits allege that Merck and Organon did not adequately warn women about the potential increased risk of blood clots.