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Shezad Malik MD JD
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Yaz MDL Court Pushing for Yasmin Lawsuit Settlements

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I am providing this litigation update, information and commentary.

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Judge Herndon overseeing the federal Yaz and Yasmin MDL, has rejected the consolidation of multiple cases during the early bellwether trials. The Court plans for “meaningful” settlement negotiations after the initial trials are held. These mini trials will help decide how juries will to respond to similar evidence and testimony like other cases in the litigation.

There are more than 6,350 lawsuits that have been centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. All of the cases allege that Bayer failed to adequately warn about the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects of Yaz and Yasmin birth control, such as a stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or gallbladder disease.

In October 2010, the Court issued an order for a handful of cases to be prepared for three early trials, known as bellwether cases. The first trial, which is scheduled to begin in 2012, will involve a pulmonary embolism injury claim. The second trial will involve a gallbladder injury and the third trial will involve a venous thromboembolism (VTE), a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

In August 19, 2011, the Court issued an order for the Gallbladder (“GB”) trial setting, that the Parties shall exchange their GB trial-pool selections on September 7, 2011. For the Venous Thromboembolism (“VTE”) trial setting, the Parties shall exchange their VTE trialpool selections on December 2, 2011.

Each side shall select four GB cases and four VTE cases. Each side shall exercise any veto (maximum of one, minimum of zero) on September 9, 2011, for the GB cases. Each side shall exercise any veto (maximum of one, minimum of zero) on December 6, 2011, for the VTE cases.

On September 14, 2011, after the exercise of any vetoes over the parties’ GB trial-pool selections, the parties shall submit the names of the remaining GB cases to the Court without indicating which party picked which case. Also on September 14, 2011, each party shall provide to the Court and to the other party a factual summary concerning each GB case submitted to the Court for trial selection, so that the Court receives two submissions on each case.

On December 12, 2011, after the exercise of any vetoes over the parties’ VTE trialpool
selections, the parties shall submit the names of the remaining VTE cases to the Court without indicating which party picked which case. Also on December 12, 2011, each party shall provide to the Court and to the other party a factual summary concerning each VTE case submitted to the Court for trial selection, so that the Court receives two submissions on each case.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys requested Judge Herndon to consolidate several cases for the 2nd and 3rd trials. They argued that trying cases one plaintiff at a time would “commit this litigation to a lifespan of eternity.” Plaintiffs states that there has been no movement by Bayer towards a Yaz settlement agreement, and suggested that effeciences would be served by trying several cases at a time after the 1st bellwether trial.

On August 18, Judge Herndon rejected this request and indicated that the 2nd and 3rd bellwether trials will proceed and shall be individual plaintiffs.

“The Court has no intention of presiding over anything into eternity, let alone this litigation, and the Court is presently working on a process that will engage the parties in settlement discussions following the bellwether trials in a meaningful way,” Judge Herndon wrote.

Yaz and Yasmin are birth control pills that contain a newer type of progestin, known as drospirenone, which has been linked to an increased risk of blood clots and other injuries. The Yaz and Yasmin litigation also involves cases filed over a newer version of the birth control pills, sold as Beyaz, as well as generic equivalents, such as Ocella and Gianvi.

Although the first trials are approaching, the number of lawsuits is expected to continue to grow as Yaz and Yasmin lawyers review and file additional cases in the coming months and years for women who have experienced health problems from the birth control pills. Early estimates suggested that more than 25,000 women may eventually file a Yaz birth control suit.