Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc. has previous lobbied for – and been denied – consolidation of lawsuits relating to its Mirena birth control device, but a reversal of the New Jersey High Court’s stance has now paved the way for multicounty status.
With more than 60 additional cases pending in New Jersey, the Court’s decision states that Mirena cases will now be heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey.
Bayer is accused of downplaying the intrauterine device’s side effects and selling Mirena despite defects that rendered the IUD dangerous. Multiple lawsuits have been filed by women who are reported to have suffered from device migration and organ damage, including 30 cases since Bayer’s last application for consolidation was denied in January.
With more than 60 additional cases pending in New Jersey, the Court’s decision, dated May 13, states that Mirena cases will now be heard in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Bergen County by Judge Brian R. Martinotti. Martinotti will also decide which cases will be consolidated and which will be heard in the counties where they were filed.
Bayer filed a letter at the beginning of March urging approval for central management of the multiple cases. This followed an earlier letter submitted by a defective medical device law firm supporting an application to consolidate, citing the firm’s experience with multicounty birth control litigation cases overseen previously – including cases involving Bayer’s Yaz birth control. Bayer maintains that it does not agree with the firm when it comes to the facts of the case, despite agreeing that consolidation was best.
The company also argued that due to its central location and light work load, Middlesex County Superior Court, and Judge Jessica Mayer, were preferable.
On a federal scale, Bayer seems less supportive of central management, arguing in March that 49 Mirena cases would be slowed down if consolidated by a federal panel. In these New Jersey cases, however, the company and plaintiff lawyers seem to be in agreement, and cases throughout the state will now be brought together for discovery.