January 12, 2010 - Contraceptive Lawsuits Going to Trial

The federal courthouse in East St. Louis, Ill., will hold pretrial proceedings for as many as 25,000 lawsuits involving a popular contraceptive, officials say.

The lawsuits against Bayer Corp., makers of the contraceptive pill Yaz, have been filed all over the country, but will be handled by U.S. District Chief Judge David Herndon as a multidistrict litigation assignment, the Belleville News-Democrat reported Monday.

Civil cases involving common facts filed in different federal districts are often moved to one district to avoid duplication in fact-finding efforts and inconsistent pretrial rulings, the newspaper said.

Herndon will preside over pretrial discovery and then may hold "bellweather" trials as examples for other districts around the country, he said.

"These trials will serve as a guideline for other cases," Herndon said. "There will be a variety of dynamics which will be taken into account in the evaluation of cases."

The suits against Bayer allege the drug, called Yaz and Yasmin, causes strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolism, thrombosis, cardiac arrhythmia, gallbladder disease, kidney failure and sudden death, the News-Democrat said.

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