A New Jersey State court will begin the first bellwether trial for NuvaRing lawsuits in February of 2013. These bellwether trials will reach a jury, out of hundreds of cases brought by women who allege the birth control ring increases the risk of blood clot (venous thromboembolism) injuries.
A group of nine cases are being prepared for trial dates in New Jersey state court, where the NuvaRing litigation has been consolidated for “mass tort” treatment before Judge Brian Martinotti in Bergen County.
According to a case management order, the first trial date is scheduled for February 4, 2013.
There are currently more than 125 NuvaRing cases consolidated in New Jersey state court, and a second group of 10 lawsuits, including five selected by each side, are being prepared for another round of trial dates that are expected to begin in February 2014.
All of the complaints involve allegations that Merck and their Organon subsidiary failed to adequately research the birth control ring or warn that side effects of NuvaRing may increase the risk of blood clots when compared to certain oral birth control pills.
Plaintiffs claim that they have suffered blood clot injuries from NuvaRing, including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, heart attack and stroke.
About 800 complaints have been filed in the federal court system, where they are consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.
No firm trial dates have been set in the federal NuvaRing MDL, it is possible that the first cases could be presented to a federal jury by late 2012 or early 2013. The federal court has asked the parties to submit proposed plans for alternative dispute resolution before any trials, which would be designed to assist the parties in negotiating potential NuvaRing settlements.
These early trial dates, known as bellwether trials, are often scheduled in mass tort litigation to help the parties get a sense of how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence, arguments and testimony that will be repeated throughout many other cases.