The Monitor newspaper reports in this story, that the next Vioxx trial is set to begin January 24, 2006, in state court in Starr County, Texas. This will be the nation’s fourth Vioxx trial. So far, the manufacturer Merck has lost one case, won another, and had a third end in a mistrial.
According to the article, the family of Leonel Garza sued the New Jersey pharmaceutical company, two McAllen doctors and a Harlingen clinic in March 2003 after the 71-year-old Rio Grande City man died of a heart attack one month after taking Vioxx.
The newspaper story sets out the plaintiff attorney’s allegations regarding delays in this trial, caused by the pre-trial tactics of Merck’s lawyers:
They claim the company has tried to stall the case, originally set for trial Feb. 14, 2005, employing state legislators with law practices to file continuances and asking that a federal judge hear the case.
“Merck has done everything in its power to deny the Garza family their day in court. This included two remands to federal court and the hiring of multiple state representatives for the sole purpose of stalling this trial,” said Joe Escobedo Jr., a lead attorney representing the Garza family.
In January, state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, entered Merck’s defense team for one day and the company filed a motion of legislative continuance, allowing the trial to stall until after the session ended. However, the next day, Hinojosa withdrew that motion, claiming Merck’s lawyers never told him that they had planned to file a motion of continuance. Hinojosa said he did not read the affidavit he signed attached to the motion and later withdrew from the case.
The next day, the company hired Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, and filed a second legislative continuance. Oliveira is a partner in the Brownsville law firm of Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher LLP and originally joined the defense team as lead counsel.
However, on Dec. 5, Merck filed a motion adding Ricardo Cedillo of the San Antonio firm Davis, Cedillo & Mendoza as lead counsel.
Oliveira said he is actively participating in the case and preparing for trial.
“We’re confident that any fair jury will find that Merck and the product Vioxx had nothing to do with the unfortunate passing of Mr. Garza,” Oliveira said.