Hundreds of women have filed Paragard IUD lawsuits claiming that they were injured when a design defect in the popular IUD caused it to fracture during removal and leave foreign objects inside their bodies.
The Paragard lawsuits in the federal courts have been consolidated into a new Paragard MDL in the Northern District of Georgia. In this post, we will speculate on how much these Paragard lawsuits might be worth if the litigation is resolved in a global settlement with the manufacturers.
- October 2021 Paragard Class Action Update (good news)
About the Paragard Lawsuits
The Paragard is a type of birth control known as an intrauterine device (IUD). The Paragard is a Y-shaped device about the size of a quarter with a copper coil around the center. The IUD is placed at the base of the uterus by a doctor where remains for as long as 10 years providing continuous protection against pregnancy. The Paragard was designed to be easily removed at the doctor’s office by pulling on a removal cord.
Unfortunately, the design of the Paragard has a hidden defect which has lead to problems during the removal process for many women. The plastic arms at the base of the Paragard are supposed to flex upwards when the device is pulled out for removal. In a large number of cases, however, the plastic arms become rigid and break off inside the patient during removal. This results in sharp pieces of plastic inside the woman’s uterus.
As the number of women who suffered health consequences as a result of the Paragard fracturing during removal, they began to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of Paragard: Teva Pharmaceuticals and CooperSurgical. By December 2020 the number of Paragard lawsuits around the country was enough to create a new Paragard MDL. The Paragard MDL now has almost 600 cases in the Northern District of Georgia for consolidated proceedings.
Paragard IUD Lawsuits Will Be Resolved in a Global Settlement
The Paragard lawsuits will eventually be resolved with a global settlement which is how almost all product mass torts are resolved. The Paragard MDL was formed at the end of 2020 and new Paragard cases continued to get filed and added into the MDL. For the next 12-14 months, the MDL judge will oversee a process of consolidated “group discovery” between the plaintiffs and defendants. The focus of the discovery process will be on the design flaw in the Paragard and what the defendants knew.
When the process of consolidated discovery in the Paragard MDL is completed, the litigation will move into the bellwether trial phase. This is where jury trials are conducted in a select handful of individual Paragard chose by the parties.
The results of these initial bellwether “test trials” have a big impact on the litigation. They usually dictate who quickly the defendants will negotiate a global settlement and how much the settlement payouts will be.
What Will a Global Paragard Settlement Look Like?
The best way to understand how global settlements work in the MDL process is to consider a simplified hypothetical example. Let’s say Acme Company is defending 10,000 lawsuits in an MDL alleging that its medical device was defective and caused patients to suffer internal organ damage when it failed. The MDL goes through 30 months of discovery. At the close of discovery, 20 plaintiffs are selected by the parties for bellwether trials. The plaintiffs pick 10 and Acme picks the other 10.
Over the next 6 months, jury trials are completed in 3 of these 10 cases. The first case results in a $5,000,000 verdict. The second case (one of the defense picks) results in a defense verdict. The third case ends with a $1,200,000 verdict for the plaintiff. Based on these results, Acme decides to settle the remaining 10,000. After 6 months of negotiation, a global settlement agreement is approved by the MDL judge.
Under the settlement, Acme agrees to pay $1 billion to settle all 10,000 pending cases. If divided evenly, this would result in a payout of $100,000 per plaintiff. But the settlement creates a complicated tiered system in which each plaintiff is ranked based on the severity of their injuries (and other factors). Plaintiffs ranked in the highest tiers get larger payouts and those in the lower settlement tiers get smaller payouts.
Estimated Settlement Payout in Paragard Lawsuits
It is way too early to know with any degree of certainty who much the settlement payout in the Paragard lawsuits might be. It is not too early, however, to make an educated guess about the potential settlement value of these cases based on settlements in prior mass tort cases with similar allegations.
Based on global settlements in prior mass tort cases involving defective medical devices and internal damages, we believe that Paragard cases in the highest settlement tier will have a value between $100,000-$180,000. Paragard plaintiffs in the second tier can probably expect payouts in the range of $40,000-$75,000. There will probably be a lower, third tier of plaintiffs who get smaller payouts ranging from $10,000-$30,000.
Settlement Tier Estimated Settlement
Tier I $100,000-$180,000
Tier II $40,000-$75,000
Tier III $10,000-$30,000
Caveat City – Many Grains of Salt Required
It is impossible to emphasize how speculative these Paragard individual settlement compensation payouts are. Because all these projections make the leap of assuming that a judge will allow the Paragard lawsuits to go to trial. Before these cases ever get to a jury, the MDL judge will have to decide whether there is enough scientific proof that a reasonable jury could accept.
Is this a challenge in the Paragard lawsuits? It is a challenge in most mass tort lawsuits. What your gut tells you and what science tells you are often two different things.
It is impossible at this stage of the game to access the scientific strength of the lawsuits because the litigation is so new and the science is developing quickly. But with so many women with the same or similar complaints, you have to think the science will support what we are seeing.