Monday, October 9, 2006
New Jersey Judge Carol Higbee granted Merck's motion to dismiss the Vioxx claims of British citizens on grounds of forum non conveniens. With this memorandum and order, Judge Higbee explained that the U.K. courts are a more appropriate forum for the claims, and ordered that Merck waive the statute of limitations and submit to U.K. jurisdiction.
A BBC news report -- Vioxx patients lose US court bid -- quoted Sallie Booth, a British solicitor who represents nearly 100 Vioxx plaintiffs, who put the dismissal into a comparative procedure perspective:
"This is hugely disappointing for UK victims of this drug. Whilst they should not be forced to look to a foreign jurisdiction to determine their cases, the restricted availability of funding for claimants in group actions in this country, especially public funding is having the effect of denying these people proper access to justice."
In August, Judge Eldon Fallon, overseeing the Vioxx federal MDL, similarly dismissed the claims of French and Italian Vioxx plaintiffs on grounds of forum non conveniens. In combination, these decisions give Merck some comfort that the two judges overseeing the vast majority of Vioxx litigation are uninterested in entertaining foreign claims in U.S. courts.