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Intrauterine Device Litigation

The intrauterine device (IUD) is a form of birth control that became popular in the 1960s. An IUD is a device that is inserted into a woman’s body. It prevents a fertilized egg from implanting. Some IUDs act mechanically to prevent pregnancy. Others use both mechanical action and chemicals to prevent pregnancy. IUDs generally remain in place if properly inserted. However, they can cause injuries if they are not properly inserted or if they are defectively designed. Starting in 1976, IUDs became regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for safety and effectiveness. The FDA also regulates the labeling of IUDs. Today, very few IUDs are on the market as a result of litigation surrounding the device.

What is the Dalkon Shield?

The Dalkon Shield is a type of IUD that was sold between 1971 and 1974, when it was taken off the market. The Dalkon Shield was a mechanical IUD, which caused serious infections, birth defects, and other injuries. The most common injury associated with the Dalkon Shield is pelvic inflammatory disease, which often causes infertility. The Dalkon Shield litigation began in the early 1970s and continued into the 1990s. The litigation forced the manufacturer to seek bankruptcy protection. The Dalkon Shield Claimants Trust was established in 1989 to pay compensation to women who sustained injuries from using the Dalkon Shield. The Trust had paid out almost $3 billion to at least 200,000 women when it closed in April 2000.

IUD Litigation

A large number of other lawsuits were brought for injuries related to the use of IUDs. Some courts have held IUD manufacturers or sellers liable because they failed to warn physicians adequately about the risks involved in using the device. Some litigation against IUD manufacturers or sellers has been dismissed, but some courts have awarded damages to IUD users after finding IUDs to have been defectively designed. Other courts have held manufacturers or sellers liable for users’ injuries because of misrepresentations as to the proper use and safety of the device. Some courts have found a breach of an express warranty when an IUD user became pregnant and suffered serious illness. At least one court has found a breach of an implied warranty that the device was safe for use as a contraceptive.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.