Tuesday, October 3, 2006
The number of Vioxx lawsuits surged in the weeks leading up to September 30, according to this AP news report in Business Week Online and this Dow Jones news report in Market Watch. Because many states have two-year statutes of limitations, this mass of filings comes, as expected, two years after Merck's withdrawal of Vioxx from the market on September 30, 2004. According to these news reports, the recent filings bring the total number of Vioxx cases to about 22,000, including over 14,000 in New Jersey state court, nearly 7,000 in the federal MDL, and about 1400 in other state courts.
These new filings and the passing of the two-year mark should give the parties a somewhat clearer picture of the overall scope of the Vioxx litigation. Some have speculated that with the passing of the statute of limitations for Vioxx claims in many states, settlement becomes more plausible as Merck may worry less about the elasticity of the litigation. The information about recent case filings also underlines the extent to which this litigation remains heavily concentrated in two courts -- Judge Fallon's MDL in the Eastern District of Louisiana and Judge Higbee's statewide coordinated mass tort litigation in Atlantic City, New Jersey.