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April 4, 2006

N.J. Appeals Court Allows Vioxx Class Action Against Merck to Proceed

The latest battle in the Vioxx wars was won by the plaintiffs when, on March 31st, an Appellate Division panel of the New Jersey Superior Court upheld a trial judge's nationwide class certification.   In International Union of Operating Engineers, Local #68 Welfare Fund v. Merck & Co., the plaintiff sued Merck claiming that the company misrepresented the safety of its drug Vioxx thereby violating New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.  Had Merck not done so, claimed the plaintiff, it and other third party payors would not have covered the cost of Vioxx.  Superior Court Judge Carol Higbee certified a nationwide class of plaintiffs thereby allowing the plaintiff to sue Merck in New Jersey on behalf of itself and all third-party payors in all 50 states and the District of Columbia who have paid anyone for the purchase of Vioxx.  The appellate court affirmed Judge Higbee's ruling saying that, "though undoubtedly presenting complex management problems," common issues among all members of this class predominate and resolution of the entire consumer fraud dispute is subject to New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act.  Merck will appeal the ruling, which subjects the company to the possibility of treble damages, to the New Jersey Supreme Court.  See the AP story by Theresa Agovino.


April 4, 2006 | Permalink


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