Good news for women injured by Nuvaring, according to media reports, a major Nuvaring global settlement may be in the works. The first NuvaRing birth control bellwether trial scheduled to begin in the Missouri federal court has been canceled. According to a recent court order all proceedings in the Nuvaring product liability lawsuits remain stayed while settlement negotiations continue.
Nuvaring Injury Cases
More than 1,400 NuvaRing lawsuits have been filed in the federal court system, which have been consolidated in the Eastern District of Missouri. These women allege that the vaginal birth control ring caused them to suffer serious blood clot injuries, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and stroke.
The lawsuits allege that Merck’s Organon subsidiary failed to adequately research the birth control ring or warn about the risk of blood clots from side effects of NuvaRing.
Federal MDL Consolidation
The cases filed in U.S. District Courts have been consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation. The cases have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Sipple in the Eastern District of Missouri, and a small group of cases have been prepared for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” trials.
Prather Bellwether Case
Marianne Prather’s claim was selected for the first NuvaRing trial date, and was expected to begin on January 27, 2014. The Prather case initially was expected to go before a federal jury in early 2013. The case has been postponed several times as the Judge ordered the parties to continue frequent contact with a mediator to discuss settling NuvaRing cases.
In October 2013, Judge Sipple put a hold on all discovery, motions and rulings until the end of last year and postponed the start of the trial until April 7, 2014. Recently Judge Sipple indicated that the trial is now cancelled, and a new date has not been selected. Judge Sipple has said that all “adversarial litigation” in the cases will remains on hold until at least May 31, 2014.
Nuvaring Injury Case Census
In October 2013, Judge Prather ordered all attorneys who represent any plaintiffs in the MDL to provide a “census” of all filed or unfiled NuvaRing claims. Judge Sipple indicated that it was necessary to have an accurate count of all cases that may be presented against Merck, leading to speculation that negotiations may be moving toward a global resolution of the litigation.
If the parties are unable to reach a resolution in a large number of cases, it is expected that the Prather trial will be rescheduled, and other “bellwether” trials will be held. If a settlement is not reached following the bellwether trials, Merck could face hundreds of individual trial dates in U.S. District Courts throughout the country.