Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Article on Law.com today by Miriam Rozen (Texas Lawyer) -- Plaintiffs Lawyers Choose Lanier to Try Multiple Vioxx Cases in New Jersey.
If all goes according to plan, on Jan. 16, W. Mark Lanier will begin trying as many as nine Vioxx-related cases -- at the same time -- before New Jersey Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee.
On July 18, 2006, Higbee, taking suggestions from some of the plaintiffs lawyers, identified 39 of the Vioxx cases, then she asked plaintiffs lawyers to select no more than 10 of them to be tried at the same time, starting in January 2007, says her law clerk Meghan Quinlivan. Quinlivan says her judge wanted to schedule as many as 10 Vioxx cases together "as a way to explore different ways of handling the litigation."
Under the proposal, the first phase of the January trial would focus on general issues of Merck's alleged failure to warn patients about concerns regarding Vioxx's safety, and the second phase would deal with individual, case-specific issues, such as patients' medical history.
According to the article, plaintiffs' lawyers on Oct. 16 submitted a list of nine cases that they propose for a joint trial with a bifurcated trial structure. Plaintiffs' lawyers had met last week concerning trial selection. Merck continues to object to trying the cases jointly on the grounds that the issues are too individualized to warrant joint resolution.