New Jersey Judge Sets A February 27, 2006 Trial Date for Next NJ Vioxx Case
In late November 2005 New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee announced that she tentatively plans to consolidate the next two Vioxx injury cases into one trial, which she has scheduled to start on February 27, 2006. At the same time, Judge Higbee set an April 24, 2006 trial for three other New Jersey Vioxx cases and, thereafter, a June 5, 2006 trial date for two more NJ Vioxx cases.
According to a November 28, 2005 Associated Press ("AP") article by John Curran, the plaintiffs in these two Vioxx cases are Thomas Cona and John McDarby. The AP article reports that Merck opposes Judge Higbee's plan of trying two Vioxx cases at once, and lawyers for the drug company intend to file legal papers asking Judge Higbee to abandon the consolidated Vioxx trial plan. The AP's John Curran reported that Judge Higbee left open the possibility of having just one case involved in the February 27 trial, with only the Cona v. Merck case going forward on that date.
The November 28 AP article describes the plaintiffs in the two cases assigned this February 27 trial date as follows:
- Cona v. Merck: "Cona, a 59-year-old businessman from Cherry Hill, [NJ] says he took the now-withdrawn painkiller for more than two years before suffering a heart attack in June 2003."
- McDarby v. Merck: "McDarby, 76, of Park Ridge, [NJ] a retired insurance salesman, also took Vioxx for more than two years before being stricken in April 2004, according to his complaint."
Merck seemingly admits that its recalled painkiller Vioxx can cause an increased risk of heart attack and stroke where a patient has 18 months of Vioxx use or more.
Merck attorney Ted Mayer raised some doubt, however, about whether Mr. Cona and Mr. McDarby actually took Vioxx for more than 18 months, as alleged in their respective lawsuit complaints. As reported by the AP, Mr. Mayer commented: "They're both alleged to be 18 months or more. We never know what will turn up when we get to trial".
The first federal Vioxx case, Irvin v. Merck, started on November 29 in Houston with U.S. District Court Judge Eldon Fallon presiding. The Irvin Vioxx trial is expected to last two weeks.
(Posted by: Tom Lamb)