A Georgia federal judge won’t throw out claims by a group of women alleging the Paragard birth control device was defective, rejecting all of Teva Pharmaceuticals and The Cooper Companies’ arguments for dismissing what they called a “shotgun” pleading.
U.S. District Judge Leigh May said that while the amended master complaint in the multidistrict litigation has some traits in common with a shotgun pleading, it nonetheless is sufficient to put Teva and Cooper on notice of their alleged wrongdoing, noting that both companies have shown in their briefs that they are “perfectly capable of discerning” the claims against them.
The complaint provides details and clarity necessary to comply with pleading standards, Judge May wrote, saying that while it’s “not ideal” that the defendants are grouped, it would be premature to ask the plaintiffs to make a more definitive statement because of the “unusually complex” situation surrounding the ownership history of the Paragard IUD and the defendants’ corporate structure.
At this point in the case,determining who owned what when and sorting out the liability questions depends on evidence that is currently under Teva and Coopers’ exclusive control, so the case must proceed to discovery to untangle those issues.
The plaintiffs allege the Paragard devices broke inside their bodies without warning and despite assurances that the birth control method was safe. In the amended master complaint, they make claims including negligence, fraud, warranty breach, failure to warn, strict liability and violation of consumer protection laws.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated more than 100 cases and transferred them to Judge May in December, after hearing arguments from counsel about who should take the consolidated suits. Judge May designated lead counsel in the MDL in February.