A large number of YAZ® lawsuits were designated as Mass Tort or Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) cases over the past several months. Just recently, the three initial bellwether trials in the federal MDL were scheduled. Courts utilize a bellwether approach when there are a large numbers of plaintiffs proceeding on the same theory or claim, such as in the Yaz ® cases. Typically, a group of plaintiffs are chosen to represent all the plaintiffs with the same alleged ailment. The purpose is that common issues, such as causation and liability, are settled among all the plaintiffs without having to go to trial repeatedly. These representative plaintiffs proceed through a normal trial, including discovery and pretrial motions. Following the trial, the results act as the bellwether for the other plaintiffs’ trials. The verdicts from these bellwether trials are extrapolated to the remaining plaintiffs’ cases.
In the Yaz lawsuits, the Court designated the initial groupings as follows: pulmonary embolism cases; gallbladder cases and thromboembolic cases. The remaining ailments, such as stroke and heart attack, will be considered subsequently. At the time of the Court’s decision in October 2010, there were in excess of 3,700 filed cases in the federal MDL. In an effort to move the litigation forward, the Court has set the following dates:
- The first trial is set September 12, 2011. This will be a pulmonary embolism (PE) case.
- The second trial is set January 9, 2012. This will be a gallbladder (GB) case.
- The third trial is set April 2, 2012. This will be an additional thromboembolic (VTE) case.