November 28, 2006
No class-action suit over Vioxx, judge rules
A federal judge denied a request by users of Merck’s withdrawn painkiller Vioxx to pool thousands of personal injury cases into a single class-action lawsuit. The order, issued by US District Judge Eldon Fallon, means that Vioxx users who claim they were injured by the drug must sue only on their own behalf. Fallon did not rule on the possibility of separate class-actions suits for each state and the District of Columbia, though. Plaintiffs had proposed trying all of the cases under the laws in New Jersey, arguing that Merck should reasonably expect to follow the laws of the state where it is headquartered. Fallon ruled that it makes more sense to apply the law of each plaintiff's home state to that plaintiff's claims. In addition, although he wrote that he was "confident that common questions exist" among the more than 7,000 remaining cases, plaintiff allegations of Merck’s negligence in failing to warn doctors about Vioxx "necessarily turn on numerous individualized issues." Merck had vowed to fight each Vioxx case individually.