A female judge would be better able to understand the issues in birth control lawsuits, a personal injury lawyer representing Paragard IUD clients told a panel of federal judges Thursday.
Atlanta attorney Robert Hammers urged the panel to assign pending Paragard lawsuits to U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May — in part because of her gender, Law360 reports.
"We believe that she's the best judge to get this of all (the judges) proposed because she's a woman and this is a woman's product dealing with women's issues," Hammers told the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Legislation.
Also known as the MDL Panel, the group of seven sitting federal judges is tasked with evaluating whether to transfer similar cases from federal districts around the country to a single federal court, in what's known as multidistrict litigation.
Gender, however, wasn’t Hammers’ only argument for assigning the Paragard class action lawsuit to May.
May’s Northern Georgia district, he said, has the lightest caseload of the four federal judicial districts under consideration. He also pointed out that the panel values opportunities for new judges to gain experience in complex MDL cases, characterizing May as “new” although she was appointed in 2014.
Hammers represents plaintiff Patricia Rodriguez and other women who say that they’ve been harmed by the Paragard IUD, the only copper IUD (intrauterine device) available in the United States.
More than 55 Paragard lawsuits have been filed so far according to Law.com, including this New York lawsuit featured in MedTruth. Claimants allege that Paragard breaks during removal, causing injury when pieces are left in the uterus. Claimants further allege that Paragard manufacturers were aware of this defect but failed to appropriately alert doctors and government regulators, Law360 reports.
Teva, an American-Israeli pharmaceutical company with dual headquarters, owned Paragard from 2008 until 2017 when it sold Paragard to current owner CooperSurgical, a unit of the CooperCompanies. According to Law360, CooperCompanies is named as a co-defendant in some of the cases filed against Teva.
Unlike hormonal IUDs which release the female hormone progestin, Paragard contains a thin layer of copper which prevents pregnancy by decreasing the movement of sperm and may also have a spermicidal effect.
Paragard was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1984 and has been available in the U.S. since 1988.