Delays in Paragard Bellwether Trial Plot the Course for Multidistrict Litigation

Atlanta, Georgia – The Paragard multidistrict litigation (MDL) is facing further delays as the first bellwether trial has been pushed back once again. The trial, which aims to assess how juries will react to evidence and testimony in thousands of Paragard lawsuits, was originally scheduled for March 4, 2024. However, an amended scheduling order issued by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May has now set the new trial date for October 28, 2024.

Judge May has implemented a bellwether program as part of the pretrial proceedings, where a select number of representative cases are prepared for early trial dates. This program helps the parties involved determine potential outcomes and gauge reactions from juries. Initially, 10 potential bellwether trials were chosen through case-specific discovery and depositions.

In an effort to update the scheduling order for the bellwether trials, Judge May recently issued a case management order on January 2, 2024. The order pushes back the deadline for the close of fact discovery for the bellwether trial pool cases by two months, moving it from February 9 to April 9. By this date, the parties must meet and confer to eliminate certain cases until only five remain. Another two cases will be struck by April 12, leaving three potential bellwether trials for Paragard IUD. The parties will then inform the judge by April 15 which of the cases the court should choose for the first bellwether trial.

The updated scheduling order also extends the close of expert discovery for the first test case by one month, changing it from May 10 to June 9. Additionally, Daubert motions, which challenge the admissibility of expert testimony, are now due by July 23. A consolidated pretrial order deadline is set for November 15, 2024. However, specific dates for the pretrial conference, final pretrial conference, and start of the first bellwether trial have yet to be scheduled, but are expected to occur in mid-2025.

According to a docket report issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on January 2, there are currently over 2,400 Paragard IUD lawsuits pending before Judge May. These lawsuits allege that the birth control implant was defective and unreasonably dangerous, often breaking during removal attempts. The plaintiffs argue that the manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings to users and the medical community about the potential risk of Paragard IUD breakage. While the outcome of the bellwether trials will not have a legally binding impact on other claimants, they are expected to greatly influence any potential global settlement negotiations for Paragard IUD cases.

The Paragard MDL has attracted significant attention due to the sheer volume of lawsuits and the similarity of the allegations. Each case raises similar claims against the manufacturer, highlighting the widespread concern over the safety of this birth control device. As the litigation progresses and more evidence and testimony are presented, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the outcomes of the bellwether trials will hold considerable weight in determining the trajectory of the overall Paragard litigation.