Between February — when all existing Yaz suits were consolidated — and now, the number of cases on the docket in new Jersey has grown by a factor of ten. Where before there were just 39 suits pending, now there are in excess of 400 on record.
Litigation in the New Jersey Yaz cases was consolidated at the request of Judge Donald Volkert Jr. Judge Volkert made the proposal because he was concerned that the rapidly-growing case would overwhelm the court system and crowd out other litigation that required due attention. Given the fast growth since this decision, it would seem his suspicion has been borne out.
Judge Brian R. Martinotti currently is overseeing the cases. He has directed the defense and the plaintiffs on the manner in which they may communicate, and has ordered both sides to brief each other with fact sheets during the discovery phase in which information is gathered. The next phase of the trials is expected to begin in September, which is when the first hearings will be held.
The New Jersey consolidation and growth is also only part of the larger, grander picture. In Illinois, all the Yaz litigation occurring at the federal level also was consolidated recently. This process is estimated at encompassing approximately 2,000 cases. In Pennsylvania, a similar state-level consolidation has occurred for cases pending there.
Furthermore, all the cases have presented similar claims. Namely, they argue across the board that Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Yaz, is directly responsible for an increase in blood potassium, a thickening of the blood and coronary conditions such as pulmonary embolisms and strokes.
This presents a picture that should be sobering to Bayer. This is not a handful of isolated claims that can be quieted down with private, no-fault-incurred settlements. Rather, it is a widespread outcry of public indignation at what is perceived as a dangerous and misleadingly-advertised product.