Yaz Settlements Climb Higher
The ninety-day stay ordered by the federal judge overseeing the Yaz multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Illinois has not stemmed the tide of claims filed against Bayer, the manufacturer of the controversial oral contraceptive. Over 11,900 lawsuits have now been filed on behalf of more than 14,000 plaintiffs. The bulk of these cases are pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, the forum for the MDL.
New cases from all over the U.S. are joining the MDL weekly. On April 19, 2012, Chief Judge David R. Herndon pushed back all deadlines for another ninety days to allow the parties more time to reach Yaz settlements. Though little news of current progress has been made public, past reports suggest that Bayer is highly motivated to settle, especially in cases of Yaz deep vein thrombosis.
Negotiations continuing in Yaz lawsuit MDL
Judge Herndon began the effort to promote Yaz settlements in 2011, when he appointed Stephen Saltzburg, a respected professor at the George Washington School of Law, as a Special Master to mediate between Bayer and the plaintiffs. In the past, Professor Saltzburg successfully mediated some 26,000 cases in the Seroquel litigation.
Under Professor Saltzburg’s guidance, Bayer has settled nearly 700 cases for a total of $142 million – an average of $218,000 per case.
Could settlements grow into the billions?
Settling all pending cases would likely involve over a billion dollars. The most frequently settled cases involve injuries related to blood clots and Yaz deep vein thrombosis, well-known side effects of drospirenone, the synthetic hormone used in Yaz and Yasmin.
Though both pills have also been linked to gallbladder injuries, Bayer has so far been reluctant to settle gallbladder cases.
If the latest round of negotiations in regard to Yaz settlements prove insufficient, Judge Herndon is likely to proceed with the initial round of bellwether trials. In complex product liability litigation, like the Yaz MDL, bellwether trials have often served to promote settlements.
Given the present stay, bellwether trials are not expected to begin until September of 2012 at the earliest.