January 23, 2013 — A woman who was injured by Mirena, an “intra-uterine” (IUD) birth control device, has requested that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) transfer her lawsuit and all future Mirena lawsuits to federal court. The plaintiff has requested the venue should be the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, before Judge Patricia A. Gaughan. The motion was filed in January 16 on behalf of plaintiff Stephanie Barnett
The plaintiffs are seeking pre-trial consolidation of the lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) because it would be more convenient and efficient to have the litigation in one court, instead of spread throughout the United States. An MDL would also reduce the risk of conflicting rulings and duplicative discovery.
The motion indicates that centralization is necessary because the litigation is expected to grow:
“It is expected that once the due diligence vetting and gathering of medical evidence is completed, there will be hundreds of lawsuits filed throughout the country. … In light of continuing, widespread attorney advertising, substantial new federal courts filings are anticipated.”
According to the motion, the problem with Mirena is that the label does not warn about the risk of spontaneous migration of the IUD, and only warns about migration if the uterus is perforated while Mirena is being inserted in a woman’s uterus. Furthermore, the label indicates that uterine perforation is “uncommon,” despite the fact that numerous women have suffered this complication. The motion also alleges that Bayer “has a history of overstating the efficacy of Mirena while understating the potential safety concerns.”
The plaintiff, Stephanie Barnett, initially filed her lawsuit on November 7, 2012 in the Northern District of Ohio. Other lawsuits have been filed in federal court in California, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Ohio. All of the lawsuits contain similar allegations against Bayer and demands for damages.
Spontaneous uterine perforation is one of the rarest and most serious complications associated with Mirena. The problem is that Mirena can perforate the uterus without warning, and if it is not diagnosed, the complication may become life-threatening. If Mirena perforates the uterus, it may migrate into the abdominal cavity and cause organ damage, bleeding, intestinal obstructions, and fail to protect against pregnancy.