The Yaz settlements are in.Women should be filing their Yaz lawsuits before it is too late.
Bayer agrees to settle Yasmin, Yaz Gallbladder lawsuits
Bayer’s latest annual financial report shows the company has spent nearly $1 billion to settle around 4,800 claims alleging Yaz blood clots, and will continue to evaluate new claims for settlement on a case-by-case basis.
(Reuters) – Bayer AG has entered into an agreement to settle lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who claim to have suffered gallbladder injuries from the company’s Yasmin and Yaz oral contraceptives, according to court documents.
In a deal reached on Friday, Bayer agreed to pay up to $24 million to settle gallbladder injury claims consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, as well as in state courts in California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Under the agreement, Bayer will pay $2,000 to plaintiffs who suffered gallbladder injuries and $3,000 to individuals who had their gallbladders removed, according to the agreement. The gallbladder mainly aids in fat digestion, but it is a non-essential organ people can generally live without, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.
The payments may be reduced, depending on the number of women who file claims, as the settlement is capped at $24 million. Bayer reserved the right to walk away from the settlement if fewer than 90 percent of the individuals who are eligible for payment choose to participate in the settlement.
Bayer said in a statement that it did not believe that the Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills increase the risk of gallbladder disease, compared to other oral contraceptives.
“Nevertheless the company has agreed to this settlement, without admission of liability, in order to avoid protracted and expensive litigation and to resolve the vast majority of pending gallbladder claims,” a Bayer spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. She said the $24 million settlement was likely less than the legal costs of defending against the suits.
Since 2009, Bayer, Germany’s largest drugmaker, has been hit by a wave of lawsuits claiming that the company knew or should have known of the health risks allegedly posed by the Yasmin and Yaz contraceptives and failed to warn users. The company is facing around 10,000 lawsuits in the United States over the drugs, Bayer said in its annual report filed in February.
BLOOD CLOT DAMAGES
The report said Bayer had reached agreements to pay $1 billion to settle claims by 4,800 women or their representatives in the United States who say the pill caused blood clots that resulted in heart attacks, strokes or other injuries. After reviewing safety data, the Food and Drug Administration in April 2012 ordered revised labels on birth control pills, including Yasmin and sister drug Yaz, to strengthen blood clot warnings.
There are around 8,000 filed lawsuits that allege gallbladder injuries, said David Zoll, an Ohio lawyer representing 500 women who say they suffered a range of injuries from Yasmin and Yaz. The latest settlement is open to plaintiffs who alleged a gallbladder injury, either alone or in combination with some other claim.
Zoll said it would be “foolish” for women with both gallbladder and blood clot injuries to opt for the gallbladder settlement since they would be barred from also collecting a blood clot settlement, which is typically larger. Damages in blood clot cases can exceed $100,000, he said.
Women who do collect $3,000 for gallbladder removals may not be left with much after deducting lawyers’ fees, filing fees and the costs of obtaining medical records. Health insurance plans may also be able to claim any leftover amount to reimburse what they paid for medical expenses, Zoll said. Nevertheless, he strongly encouraged his clients with gallbladder injuries to accept the settlement.
While modest, the settlement was the best lawyers for the plaintiffs could achieve, Zoll said, given the lack of epidemiological studies showing that users of Yasmin and Yaz have a higher risk of gallbladder disease, compared to other oral contraceptives.