U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel
U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel ()

Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc. has moved to dismiss some of about 450 lawsuits filed over its Mirena intrauterine contraceptive device on ground that the cases exceed the applicable statute of limitations.

The motion, filed on Wednesday, came as U.S. District Judge Cathy Seibel, who is overseeing the litigation in White Plains, N.Y., gave both sides until June 3 to select a dozen cases each that would serve as an “initial disposition pool” with the goal of going to trial.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Litigation over the Mirena IUD was coordinated before Seibel last year. The suits allege that the Mirena, which a doctor implants into a woman during an office visit, can dislodge, tearing the uterine wall and requiring surgical removal.

Bayer has insisted that the device’s packaging labels, which warn of risks of uterine perforation, are adequate.

In its dismissal motion, Bayer asserts that the claims by plaintiff Amanda Truitt are barred by the statute of limitations in Texas, where she brought her case, and in Indiana, where she lives. Truitt, who suffered nausea and vomiting after the device migrated out of her uterus, causing ovarian cysts, underwent surgery to remove it in 2011. But she didn’t sue until more than two years later, the motion says. Claims for products liability and personal injury are barred in both states after two years.

Bayer said its dismissal motion would serve as an “exemplar” on the issue of statute of limitations. Bayer attorney Shayna Cook, a partner at Chicago’s Goldman Ismail Tomaselli Brennan & Baum, in a Jan. 2 letter to the judge, estimated that 15 percent of the cases could be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds.

“An early statute of limitations ruling would streamline discovery in many of those cases and would likely lead to voluntary dismissal by many plaintiffs and deter future filing of similarly time-barred cases,” she wrote.

Lead plaintiffs attorney Diogenes Kekatos disagreed that Bayer’s motion in a single case could determine the outcome of the others. In his own Jan. 8 letter to the judge, he noted that each state has different statutes of limitations.

Cook declined to comment, and Kekatos, a partner at New York’s Seeger Weiss, did not respond to a request for comment.

More than 700 additional lawsuits over Mirena are pending in New Jersey state courts.

Contact Amanda Bronstad at abronstad@alm.com.