A United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) has denied the transfer of nine pending actions against intrauterine device (IUD) maker Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Bayer).
The nine actions that are pending in six districts assert that the synthetic hormone, levonorgestrel, released by the Mirena IUD results in a neurological condition called pseudotumor cerebri or idiopathic intracranial hypertension.
Levonorgestrel is a type of progesterone hormone that prevents pregnancy by thickening a woman’s cervical mucus, creating an impenetrable barrier for sperm. It also restricts uterine lining thickness, which affects fertilization and prevents pregnancy.
Intracranial hypertension causes abnormal elevation of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull which may cause symptoms of severe migraine headaches, tinnitis (ringing in the ears), vision loss, swollen optic nerves and possible blindness. In severe cases, placement of a shunt to drain the fluid in the skull is recommended, according to a memorandum in support of the transfer to an MDL court.
The judicial panel discussed that some characteristics of the litigation would benefit from centralization in an MDL docket, but ultimately found that centralization was not warranted. The nine actions share factual issues arising from the synthetic hormone released by the Mirena IUD, and charge that Bayer failed to warn consumers of the risks associated with its use.
However, the court was unconvinced that centralization was necessary for convenience and efficient litigation in the matter because a single plaintiffs’ counsel filed all nine actions naming Bayer as the defendant in each. Bayer has national counsel coordinating its response to the litigation and is willing to share any overlapping discovery.
The court stated, “given the few involved counsel and limited number of actions, informal cooperation among the involved attorneys is both practicable and preferable to centralization.
The court agreed with Bayer’s assertion that unlike the MDL No. 2434 litigation involving Mirena IUD for uterine perforation and migration injuries, the neurological symptoms alleged in this case are nonspecific and would require “fact-intensive inquiry over whether each plaintiff was properly diagnosed.”
[sws_pullquote_right] See also: Mirena IUD’s Harmful Side Effects Lead to Multidistrict Litigation [/sws_pullquote_right]
The plaintiffs also acknowledged that the symptoms of intracranial hypertension at issue in this case are also regularly diagnosed in individuals who do not use Mirena.
The court lastly found that the mere possibility of six additional related actions still did not warrant centralization and denied the plaintiff’s motion to transfer the case to an MDL court.
The case is In RE: Mirena IUS Levonorgestrel-Related Products Liability Litigation, Case MDL number 2559 in the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation.