At present, more than 1,700 women have sued the manufacturers of NuvaRing, a prescription contraceptive device. NuvaRing was manufactured originally by Organon USA, Inc., a company which was subsequently acquired by Merck & Co., and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October of 2001. The product consists of a vaginal ring that contains the hormones estrogen and progestin. NuvaRing was designed to be used monthly. It was marketed as being more convenient than daily birth control pills, but equally effective. A study that was commissioned by the FDA and published in 2011 reported a 56% increase in blood clot risks for NuvaRing users, including an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE), when compared to birth control pill users. In 2012, studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine and The British Medical Journal stated that the side effects of NuvaRing included an increased risk of blood clots, strokes and heart attacks.
One case that is pending against the manufacturers involves a then 20 year old college student, who began using NuvaRing in 2008. After using NuvaRing for more than a year, she suddenly became ill and began spitting up blood. She was rushed to the hospital, where she spent 10 days receiving anticoagulants in an effort to thin her blood. Her doctors had a hard time believing she had a blood clot in her lung because she was only 22 years old at the time, she did not smoke, and she had no family history of blood clots. Her doctors eventually concluded that she had developed a blood clot in her lung, a condition known as pulmonary embolus, which can be fatal. Because she was a healthy 22 year old at the time and did not have other risk factors for blood clots, her doctors concluded that NuvaRing caused the blood clot.
A 24 year old woman who had used NuvaRing was not so fortunate. She suffered what was described as a massive pulmonary embolism that, in turn, triggered four heart attacks, resulting in her untimely death. Her doctors also believed that NuvaRing was the cause of her pulmonary embolism. In 2011, her parents filed a lawsuit against the product manufacturers.
Victims who were injured as a result of using NuvaRing and their families allege in these lawsuits that Organon, Merck & Co. and others failed to adequately warn the public about the side effects of NuvaRing. The plaintiffs contend that the companies were negligent in their marketing of this birth control device, since the product warning placed more emphasis on relatively minor side effects, such as nausea and headaches, while neglecting to place adequate warnings of the risk of deadly blood clots.
The federal court cases are pending in what is known as the multidistrict litigation (MDL) court, which is a coordinated proceeding in which all pretrial activities, such as written discovery, depositions, motions and evidentiary rulings, are pending before one judge. The presiding judge also has the authority to schedule so-called Bellwether trials, which are trials of selected cases to assist the parties in evaluating the remaining cases. The NuvaRing MDL litigation is entitled In Re: NuvaRing Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1964 (E.D.Mo.), and the presiding judge is United States District Court Judge Rodney Sippel. The first Bellwether trial was rescheduled to begin on January 27, 2014. However, on January 9, 2014, Judge Sippel ordered that all adversarial proceedings, including depositions of experts and lay witnesses, motions to exclude evidence and witnesses, and any rulings on pending motions, be suspended for a period of approximately five months. While the judge did not address the reason for suspending the litigation in his order, lawyers involved believe that this break in the litigation may provide counsel for the victims and the manufacturers the time needed to negotiate a potential settlement agreement. Although the NuvaRing litigation is currently in abeyance, that does not prevent the filing of new lawsuits during this period of abeyance. Any lawsuits filed while settlement negotiations are ongoing would be included in any potential settlement agreement.
Women who developed blood clots and were diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE), or stroke, may contact Suthers & Harper toll free at 1-800-320-2384 to discuss their legal rights. The firm provides such consultations at no charge. If it is determined that you have a valid NuvaRing case, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no attorney’s fee unless there is a recovery on your behalf.