Judge Sets Court Date for First MDL Vioxx Lawsuit to Go to Trial

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The lawsuit against Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx, will proceed to trial in November.

It was announced late yesterday that the first Vioxx case, Evelyn Irvin Plunkett v. Merck & Co, Inc., to go to trial among cases pending in the federal Vioxx MDL (No. 1657) in New Orleans will begin on November 28, 2005. The announcement was made by Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, who is presiding over the Vioxx Multi-district Litigation (MDL).

The Beasley Allen Law Firm in Montgomery, Alabama represents Mrs. Plunkett and 162 other plaintiffs (125 in federal court; 37 in state court). Andy Birchfield, partner in the firm and co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the MDL, said, “It is unprecedented to have a trial in the MDL so soon after its creation. We have complete confidence that justice will be served. Merck violated our public trust by lying to physicians and patients. Evidence will be presented that Merck hid the serious risks of Vioxx and misrepresented the minimal benefits. As a result, thousands of individuals, including Mr. Irvin, have died or suffered serious injury unnecessarily.”

Plunkett’s husband, Richard Irvin Jr. began taking Vioxx for back pain on April 15, 2001. One month later he died of a heart attack. He was 53 years old. Mr. Irvin was the manager of a wholesale seafood business in St. Augustine, Fla., and he was in "very good health," according to his wife. She is convinced he died because he took Vioxx, the medicine Merck abruptly pulled from the market last September after scientific studies showed Vioxx more than doubled the risk of heart attack or stroke.

According to Birchfield, “The death of Richard Irvin was a horrible loss to his family and the community. We look forward to proving that Merck’s drug Vioxx caused Mr. Irvin’s heart attack. Without warning patients, like Mr. Irvin, and their physicians, Merck continued to sell Vioxx, intentionally putting profits over the safety of innocent people.”

Beasley Allen has been litigating Vioxx cases for more than three years -- since November 2001-- before the drug was pulled off the market. The law firm is investigating more than 10,000 Vioxx cases and expects to file hundreds of lawsuits against Merck in the coming months.

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