I’m a little slow in reporting this court ruling, but I was reminded of it by an article at Newsday.com this week. An except from the article:
U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon ruled Nov. 16 that plaintiff lawyers in the trial starting Tuesday in Houston may present evidence that brief Vioxx use can trigger heart attacks and strokes, rejecting Merck’s motion to throw out the case for insufficient evidence. The case involves a 53-year-old St. Augustine, Fla. seafood distribution manager, Richard Irvin, who had a fatal 2001 heart attack after just a month on the former blockbuster arthritis pill.
Legal experts say Fallon’s ruling blocked Merck’s effort to squelch the roughly one-fourth of federal lawsuits involving short-term Vioxx use.
“It leaves Merck stuck with every dad-gum one of those cases,” said Houston lawyer Mark Lanier, who in August won a $253.4 million verdict for the widow of a short-term Vioxx user in the first Vioxx trial.
Merck now will have to fight each short-term case in court or settle it, said Fordham Law School Professor James A. Cohen.
“It’s a significant blow to Merck,” he said Friday.