3,481 NJ Vioxx Cases, 2625 MDL Cases, 450 "Others": October 2005 AP Report
Reporter Linda A. Johnson, through the Associated Press ("AP"), informed us on October 13, 2005 that Merck now faces more than 6,500 Vioxx lawsuits, up from about 5,000 Vioxx cases reported in Merck's last update on the Vioxx litigation.
The new Vioxx lawsuit total includes 3,481 Vioxx cases that were filed in the New Jersey state court system as of October 13, 2005. More than 1,000 new Vioxx cases have been filed in New Jersey since late August 2005, including 800 new Vioxx lawsuits in September 2005.
Turning to the federal court Vioxx Multi-district Litigation ("MDL"), there are 500 new cases that have been filed since late August 2005, according to the AP's October 13 article. In total, there are 2,200 federal Vioxx cases already filed, and about another 425 Vioxx cases recently transferred to the federal court Vioxx MDL, which is being handled by the Eastern District of Louisiana -- which currently has its court personnel working in Houston, due to Hurricane Katrina.
Lastly, according to the AP's report by Linda Johnson, another 450 Vioxx cases were pending in various state courts other than New Jersey as of August 15, 2005.
Nearly all of the Vioxx lawsuits filed to date are based on product liability legal theories. As personal injury or wrongful death suits, however, these Vioxx cases are subject to many different filing deadlines, called the "statute of limitation", across the nation. It is speculated that most of the recently filed Vioxx lawsuits involved Vioxx plaintiffs who resided in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Tennessee, where people apparently had a one-year statute of limitation using the "discovery rule". As such, these Vioxx lawsuits had to be filed before September 29, 2005 -- because Merck pulled Vioxx from the market on September 30, 2004.
For the most part, individual Vioxx lawsuits have been filed with the underlying Complaint alleging that Vioxx caused cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and ischemic strokes. These personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits seek legal compensation for people who have been injured by their use of Vioxx.
In contrast, there are some filed (potential) class action lawsuits that seek future medical monitoring costs reimbursement for Vioxx users who have not yet had any injury from their use of Vioxx.
Rather brashly, in the face of it all, Merck says it has set aside financial reserves of $675 million for its legal defense costs, but (Merck asserts) has not set up any compensation fund to pay for Vioxx settlements or jury awards against the drug company.
(Posted by: Tom Lamb)