Plaintiffs pursuing Essure birth control lawsuits in federal court have asked the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to centralize their cases in a single U.S. District Court for the purposes of coordinated pretrial proceedings. In a Motion filed with the Panel on July 21st, plaintiffs assert that centralization of the Essure docket will promote judicial efficiency and preserve the resources of the court, witnesses and parties involved in the litigation.
Essure contraceptive coils were brought to market by Conceptus, Inc. in 2002. In 2013, that company was acquired by Bayer. Made of nickel and titanium, the coils are inserted into the fallopian tubes via the vagina, and offer women seeking a permanent method of birth control a non-surgical alternative to traditional tubal ligation. Once inserted, Essure coils promote the formation of scar tissue that blocks sperm from reaching any unfertilized eggs released by the ovaries.
In February 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Bayer to add a new black box warning to the Essure label, after an agency review uncovered more than 5,000 reports of unintended pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths and severe pain and bleeding that persisted long after the coils were implanted. Many Essure recipients said they were forced to undergo removal surgery because of the severe side effects they experienced. The FDA has also directed Bayer to conduct a 3-year study of Essure in order to gather “important information about the risks of the device in a real-world environment.”
According to the Motion filed with the JPML last week, at least 30 Essure lawsuits have been filed in federal courts on behalf of more than 1,000 women. Plaintiffs asserted that the creation of a centralized docket is justified, as the underlying claims all arise from the same device, assert the same, or similar, claims, and cause the same, or similar, injuries. They have asked the Panel to transfer all pending Essure cases, as well as any filed in the future, to the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania, as it is already overseeing three lawsuits.