Top 10 Legal Questions about Birth Control Lawsuits
I think my birth control caused a blood clot injury. How do I know if I have a lawsuit?Some of the factors that will affect your ability to bring a case include: (1) which form of birth control you were using, (2) the dates that you were using the product, (3) whether the product was "name brand" or a generic, and (4) the nature and extent of your injuries. Gather this information and talk with a birth control lawyer about what happened so that he or she can examine the details of your situation and tell you if you have grounds for a lawsuit. Each state has a limit on the the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit (called a "Statute of Limitations"), so contact a lawyer immediately to protect your legal rights.
What are products and pharmaceutical liability?Products liability litigation involves defective or unreasonably dangerous items that could potentially kill or injure a person. The manufacturers of these items are held accountable for the design or manufacturing defects that can cause injury. In many cases, the problem is not necessarily with the design of the medical device, but rather with the failure to sufficiently discover and warn about the associated risks.
Pharmaceutical liability claims involve dangerous drugs. Sometimes, manufacturers fail to tell those who take their drugs about the serious and often life-threatening side effects that they may cause. Other times, these companies do not adequately research the potential complications associated with their products. Like medical devices, the most common issue with medications is the failure of the manufacture to sufficiently test for and adequately warn of dangerous side effects.
My birth control hasn't been recalled, but I think it injured me. What do I do now?It is possible that there is litigation, and it makes sense to consult a lawyer to determine if others are bringing claims. However, in most cases, thankfully, medications have sufficient warnings and the problems you experience may already have been covered by the warning. It is definitely worth your time to call a lawyer and inquire about your injuries. Typically, a lawyer will review epidemiological studies regarding these side effects. If there are studies showing that the medication is more than doubling the risk of a serious injury but fails to warn of that injury, it is possible that there could be litigation. Sometimes the signal of these problems is so sudden that there are not yet studies. These are all factors that can impact if litigation is taking place even if your birth control has not been recalled.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after my birth control injury occurred?Each state has its own statute of limitations that bars the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after your injury occurred. Don't delay in seeking counsel as these time limits can forever bar a claim from being brought. There are many resources online that can help explain how these rules apply to your individual situation, and discussing these with a lawyer can also clear up any confusion.
Which birth control products have been the subjects of litigation?NuvaRing may increase a woman's risk of complications such as blood clots, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). The FDA has received over 1,000 reports of death or injury associated with NuvaRing. Women who have suffered these and other problems are now filing lawsuits, and trials will start early next year.
YAZ and Yasmin have also been associated with blood clots, PE, DVT and other heart-related complications, as well as gallbladder problems. As of March 2012, about 12,000 lawsuits were brought against Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the manufacturer YAZ and Yasmin.
Mirena IUD has been found to cause side effects such as abscesses, embedment in the uterus, infertility, perforations in the abdomen and internal organs, pelvic inflammatory disease and other severe problems. Lawsuits allege that Bayer failed to adequately warn women and health care professionals about the risk of Mirena side effects.
Birth control products that have been the subjects of past litigation.Ortho Evra has allegedly caused numerous deaths and health complications. The manufacturers of the birth control patch have settled more than 4,000 lawsuits brought about by women who suffered blood clots, EVT, PE, heart attack, stroke and other problems.
Depo Provera, or the "depo shot," has been known to cause calcium loss and often irreversible bone-related diseases such as osteoporosis and broken bones.
What is the difference between class action lawsuits and mass tort?A class action is a type of lawsuit in which a large group of people who suffered similar injuries gets together to bring a claim to court. Class actions allow many people to go up against a company that would normally overwhelm the individual plaintiffs. Each plaintiff can either seek independent action or accept a share of the final settlement or verdict. A class representative pursues the litigation on behalf of everyone.
On the other hand, multidistrict litigation (MDL) consolidates similar lawsuits in multiple court districts that depend on common questions of fact into one case under one federal judge. Unlike a class action, each person in an MDL has an individual case in the event of a trial.
NuvaRing lawsuits were consolidated into an MDL, as were YAZ and Yasmin lawsuits. Depo Provera litigation is class action.
I'm embarrassed to talk about my birth control experience. How will my attorney handle this sensitive situation?A good birth control lawyer cares about his or her client's health and well-being. You should feel that you are able to talk freely and comfortably with your lawyer. Every detail matters to the outcome of your case, so it's important to share all relevant information about your experience.
Who is the defendant in a birth control lawsuit?Most of the time, the defendant in a birth control lawsuit is the manufacturer of the product. For example, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ortho McNeil are the manufacturers of Ortho Evra. This is why MDLs and class actions are so useful to individuals - plaintiffs have more resources to go up against these large companies.
How do I choose a birth control lawsuit attorney?First, find a lawyer who handles cases involving your birth control. Next, look for his or her firm's credentials online - they should list some of their recent settlements and verdicts and other information that speaks for them. There are plenty of awards and recognition such as Super Lawyers(R) that will also help validate a firm's work.
Additional resources provided by the author
- Side Effects of NuvaRing: describes the complications associated with NuvaRing and provides useful legal information
- YAZ and Yasmin Recall: discusses the current YAZ/Yasmin litigation
- “More Detail on Risk Urged for a Contraceptive Label” (New York Times): describes the conflict about blood clot warnings on YAZ and Yasmin labels.
- “Drug Makers Near Old Goal: A Legal Shield” (New York Times): discusses the legal argument regarding whether Johnson & Johnson adequately warned Ortho Evra users