On February 14, 2011, Judge David Herndon held a status conference in Illinois. The multi-district litigation process that is known as the bellwether trials is nearing its start as lawyers for both sides of the lawsuit against Bayer, the makers of Yaz and Yasmin, talked about the progress of the pretrial efforts. Some of those mentioned during the conference included witness depositions, the production of evidence and trial selection.
Conference reports show that the witness depositions from the defense have already started, and that more of them are going to happen throughout April. The defense did not formally list the witnesses names, though it is assumed that most of them are either technical and medical experts that will be able to offer Bayer support in their claims that Yaz and Yasmin are not any more dangerous than any other birth control that is out there today.
Lawyers for both sides also pointed out that one of the bellwether Yaz cases might get dismissed. Should that happen, it will be up to the defense to pick another case to replace it. However, so far, no one knows just how much participation in that process the defense is supposed to have. In October of last year, Herndon created a trial schedule for 3 of the bellwether Yaz cases. The first one, about pulmonary embolism, was to reach court by September 12, 2011. The second gallbladder case was to reach trial by January 12, 2012, and the third blood clot case was to reach trial April 2, 2012. While Herndon will preside over pretrial proceedings, he may even preside over some of bellwether cases during trial.
Each of these cases was meant to help set an expected precedent for further Yaz trials so as to avoid clogging up the courts with multiple lawsuits, and gives Bayer the chance to settle some cases out of court should the company choose to. There are thousands of lawsuits filed against Bayer amid claims that the company didn’t properly warn the public of the negative side effects of Yaz and Yasmin. Some lawsuits accuse the company of misleading the public through its advertising as well. Bayer stands to lose millions in potential settlements.