The federal court overseeing pretrial proceedings for personal injury lawsuits involving the ParaGard IUD is scheduled to convene the multidistrict litigation’s Initial Conference later today.
According to a Practice and Procedure Order issued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia, on January 7th, the conference will be held over Zoom beginning at 10:00 a.m.
All outstanding disclosure and discovery deadlines related to the pending ParaGard lawsuits are currently stayed. The Order further directed attorneys to submit a brief statement outlining their preliminary understanding of the facts involved in the litigation by January 25th.
Several issues will be addressed during today’s conference, including the appointment of the plaintiffs’ and defendants’ liaison counsel. Lawyers on each side were to meet and confer on possible candidates and file their proposals with the Court by February 2nd.
“Appointment of liaison counsel will be made by the Court after full consideration of the proposals,” the January 7th Order states. “At the Initial Conference, liaison counsel, if appointed, and/or the parties should be prepared to discuss any additional needs for an organizational and leadership structure or any additional matters consistent with the efficient handling of this matter.”
Finally, the Court will also consider the appointment of attorneys to a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. This committee will be tasked with conducting and coordinating the discovery stage of the ParaGard litigation with the Defendants’ representatives or committee.
ParaGard is a copper intrauterine device (IUD) implanted into the uterus to provide long-term birth control for up to 10 years. The device consists of a t-shaped plastic frame wrapped in copper wire coils and works by trigging an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and prevents pregnancy.
Although the manufacturer of ParaGard asserts that the IUD is easy to remove and will not impair fertility once explanted, women pursuing these lawsuits claim the device is prone to fracture during removal procedures. This occurrence can allegedly result in severe internal injuries and the need for a total hysterectomy or other invasive surgical procedure to retrieve the IUD’s broken fragments.
According to court records, just under 100 ParaGard IUD lawsuits were pending in the Northern District of Georgia as of January 19th. However, in seeking to have the federal docket centralized in one jurisdiction for coordinated pretrial proceedings, plaintiffs’ attorneys had predicted that hundreds of similar cases would eventually be filed in courts around the United States.
ParaGard IUD lawsuits currently pending in the Northern District of Georgia and any transferred there in the future will undergo coordinated discovery and motions practice before a single federal judge. The multidistrict litigation process is intended to avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts in cases that involve similar factual allegations, avoid duplicative discovery, and serve the convenience of common witnesses, parties, and the judicial system.