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Shezad Malik MD JD
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NuvaRing Bellwether Trials in New Jersey Suffer Setback

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Seven NuvaRing “bellwether” injury cases that were scheduled for early trial in New Jersey state court, have been dismissed. Judge Martinotti, determined that the plaintiffs did not have sufficient evidence to establish that Merck and Company, was liable for the alleged injuries.

More than 200 NuvaRing birth control product liability lawsuits are pending in New Jersey. These cases are centralized before Judge Martinotti in Bergen County, as part of an MCL or Multicounty Litigation.

What are Bellwether Trials?

These seven cases were being prepared for early trial dates, known as “bellwether” lawsuits. Bellwether cases, are designed to help the parties determine the strengths and weaknesses of their cases. These bellwether cases were scheduled to begin in the next several months.

According to the court, Merck could not be held liable for failing to warn about the risks of NuvaRing, and its role in deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism and strokes.

These bellwether trials may also help promote NuvaRing settlement discussions to resolve claims and avoid individuals trials that would ultimately need to be scheduled in each case.

What is Nuvaring?

NuvaRing is a vaginal birth control ring that releases a combination of ethinyl estradiol and the “third generation” progestin etonogestrel. All of the plaintiff complaints allegate that NuvaRing increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism and strokes blood clots.

Federal Nuvaring MDL Still on Track

More than 1,000 lawsuits are pending against Merck, these cases have been consolidated as part of an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Bellwether cases are also being prepared for trial dates, scheduled to begin in October 2013.