With more than 7,000 lawsuits pending in federal courts, the controversy over birth control products Yaz and Yasmin may constitute the largest products liability matter in the United States today. Produced by drug maker Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the products are newer contraceptive pills that were initially marketed for their ability to clear up acne and alleviate severe forms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). However, women who used both Yaz and Yasmin began to develop serious cardiovascular conditions, including blood clots in the arms, legs, lungs and head.
ALLEGED ISSUES WITH YAZ AND YASMIN
Many of the lawsuits allege that Bayer failed to adequately warn about the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions stemming from potential clotting, such as a stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or gallbladder disease. According to a Case Management Order issued by Chief Judge David R. Herndon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (where many of the lawsuits are venued) about 43 percent of plaintiffs suffered gallbladder disease, 40-41 percent experienced either pulmonary embolism or DVT, and 9-10 percent were heart attack or stroke victims.
"TEST" YAZ TRIALS
With so many lawsuits incorporating common claims, Judge Herndon will conduct three bellwether (i.e. test) trials to gauge how juries are likely to respond to evidence and testimony common to all of the cases. The test trials are also meant to inspire settlements throughout the country. According to motions asking the court to consolidate several other individual lawsuits into single trials, Bayer has resisted any type of settlement thus far.
Many plaintiffs feared that trying the cases individually would mean that they could wait for decades before having their day in court. They explained in motions that doing so would "commit this litigation to a lifespan of eternity." However, Judge Herndon wrote in his order that he had "no intention of presiding over anything into eternity, let alone this litigation."
The test trials are scheduled to begin next year. In the meantime, the court is presently working on processes that will enable the parties to engage in meaningful settlement discussions after the trials are completed.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by Yaz or Yasmin, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to have your claim evaluated.