Trial Consists Of Only Single Case, Not The Four-Case Group Judge Chaney Had Scheduled
A June 21, 2006 article in the San Jose Mercury News reported that the first Vioxx trial in California started on schedule, although it will consist of a single case, only -- not the four consolidated cases that had been planned, originally.
Jury selection is currently underway in the case of Grossberg v. Merck, which involves Stewart Grossberg, who claims claims he took Vioxx for more than two years before he had a heart attack at age 66.
The Grossberg case one of some 2,000 Vioxx lawsuits filed in the California state court system that have been consolidated in Los Angeles Superior Court, with Judge Victoria G. Chaney presiding.
Judge Chaney had decided earlier to group four representative cases for this first trial. Those cases involved individuals who took Vioxx for various periods of time before they suffered a heart attack, which they attributed to their Vioxx use.
Of those four cases set for this first California Vioxx trial, according to the San Jose Mercury News article: "One of the cases was dismissed, while another was continued because the plaintiff's attorney is involved in another Vioxx case out of state."
Meanwhile a third case had a couple of late-breaking developments and, ultimately, it too was removed from the first Vioxx trial in California. That case involved 76-year old Rudolph Arrigale who took Vioxx for five months and then suffered a heart attack.
First, a few weeks before the June 21 trial date, Merck filed a summary judgment motion to have the Arrigale case dismissed on statute of limitations grounds. According to an article published by The National Law Journal on June 8, 2006, a hearing on Merck's motion for summary judgment was scheduled for June 15. It seems Merck lost that battle -- so its attorneys resorted to a second tactic.
As reported in the June 21 Mercury News article:
... [Judge] Chaney severed the [Arrigale case from the Grossberg case on June 20] after attorneys for Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck argued that they needed more time for discovery because of the potential of new medical evidence surfacing in Arrigale's case, said Thomas Brandi, a San Francisco attorney representing Arrigale.
The Grossberg case in California is the eighth to go to trial nationwide.
The trial of another Vioxx case, Doherty v. Merck, which started during the first part of June 2006 in Atlantic City, N.J., is still going on the Grossberg trial starts. The Doherty case involves a 68-year old woman, Elaine Doherty, who took Vioxx for two-and-half to three years before suffering a heart attack.
There have been six verdicts in Vioxx trials to date -- three in favor the plaintiff, and three in favor of Merck.
(Posted by: Tom Lamb)