Judge Postpones First Yaz MDL Trial, Orders Mediation
Judge David R. Herndon of the Southern District of Illinois opted for mediation, rather than a trial, for the first of many cases currently pending in multidistrict litigation (MDL), in which plaintiffs are seeking compensation for Yaz injuries.
Plaintiffs seek compensation for Yaz injuries
Herndon is overseeing thousands of pending cases in which plaintiffs, along with a Yaz lawyer, are pursuing Yaz settlements. Yaz is reportedly the fourth most popular birth control drug in the United States. Plaintiffs seeking compensation for their Yaz injuries have linked the contraceptive to side effects such as Yaz blood clots, stroke, heart attack, Yaz deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Many thousands of people throughout the U.S. are seeking Yaz settlements from the drug’s manufacturer, Bayer Corporation.
In order to manage the growing caseload, Herndon initially scheduled a series of bellwether trials, which would serve as a guidepost for the management of similar cases in which plaintiffs seek compensation for Yaz injuries.
In November 2011, Herndon tentatively scheduled the first bellwether trial for Jan. 12, 2012. However, on Dec. 31, 2011, he announced that rather than immediately proceeding with the bellwether trials, he would implement mediation with the intention of bringing about pre-trial Yaz settlements. Professor Stephen Saltzburg of George Washington School of Law will preside as Special Master for the purposes of mediation.
Mediating Yaz settlements
Many plaintiffs who have hired a Yaz lawyer to pursue compensation for Yaz injuries accuse Bayer Corporation of marketing its product as safer than rival products. This assurance caused many people who may have opted for another form of birth control to choose Yaz. Plaintiffs seeking Yaz settlements also accuse the company of minimizing risks associated with taking Yaz.
Lawyers for Bayer Corporation made the initial request to postpone the bellwether trials and order mediation. Herndon approved the motion, and appointed a mediator to see if both sides could reach a deal regarding compensation for Yaz injuries.
Saltzburg has significant experience as a mediator and successfully mediated suits against European drug manufacturer AstraZeneca. Though a judge can set a time limit in which the parties must reach Yaz settlements, Herndon has decided not to set a limit and is hopeful that both the defendant drug maker and plaintiffs seeking compensation for their Yaz injuries can work toward a resolution.
Kerry Sims vs. Bayer Corporation, which is the case that was set to go to trial, has been postponed until further notice.