For immediate release
Montgomery, Alabama (November 9, 2007) – After more than five years of hard-fought and difficult litigation, Merck has agreed to pay $4.85 billion, the largest pharmaceutical settlement in history, to resolve certain Vioxx-related claims involving plaintiffs who suffered a heart attack (including sudden cardiac death) or a stroke. Beasley Allen’s Andy Birchfield and his Vioxx team of lawyers – Benjamin Locklar, P. Leigh O’Dell, and W. Roger Smith, III – played an integral role in the development of the Settlement Program and in Merck agreeing to settle these cases.
Mr. Birchfield is known nationwide as one of the leading Vioxx lawyers. He is Co-Lead Counsel of the coordinated Vioxx MDL litigation in New Orleans, and he is one of the few attorneys in the country that has tried a Vioxx case before a jury. He is one of only two lawyers nationwide who has tried Vioxx cases in both state and federal courts.
The Settlement Program will settle the claims of thousands of qualified claimants who suffered a heart attack, ischemic stroke, or sudden cardiac death resulting from Vioxx. The settlement funds will be allocated among thousands of qualifying claims based upon an evaluation of each Qualifying Claimant’s medical records by a Claims Administrator. We feel the Settlement Program is fair and that it provides qualifying clients the ability to be compensated for their injuries in the foreseeable future, rather than competing for a trial date with the thousands of other Vioxx cases pending nationally.
The litigation involving product liability claims related to the pain reliever, Vioxx, has been ongoing for over five years. It is estimated that thousands personal of injury lawsuits have been filed. Discovery has been ongoing in consolidated cases throughout the country since 2001. Over 50 million pages of documents have been produced and reviewed. More than 2005 general depositions have been taken thus far. Thousands of motions have been filed and considered. Hundreds of experts in cardiology, pharmacology, neurology and other disciplines have been consulted. Moreover, over 19 trials have taken place between August 2005 and September 2007 with mixed results, including defense verdicts, plaintiff’s verdicts, hung juries, and retrials.
More than 11 months ago in December 2006, Judge Eldon E. Fallon of the Federal Court in New Orleans in consultation with coordinating Judges Victoria Cheney of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Carol Higbee of the New Jersey Superior Court and Judge Randy Wilson of the Harris County, Texas District Court directed Merck and Plaintiffs to begin continuous and frequent confidential negotiations.
For Plaintiffs, the Judges appointed a six-member negotiating committee which included representatives from each coordinating state, the MDL Executive Committee and a member of the MDL Steering Committee at large.
Merck designated a like number of negotiators, and the two groups were directed to seek a potential resolution of filed and tolled cases in which folks alleged that they or loved ones had suffered heart attacks, ischemic strokes or sudden cardiac death as a result of Vioxx ingestion.
Negotiating teams met in more than 50 sessions in New Orleans, Montgomery, Washington D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Houston. Several hundred phone conferences augmented face-to-face negotiations.
The coordinating Judges, during frequently scheduled meetings and phone calls, monitored the progress of the negotiations while at the same time managing dockets of thousands of cases.
From the plaintiffs’ perspective many lawyers who were involved in conducting discovery about Vioxx, developing the science liability case, and trying cases before juries demonstrated great tenacity and excellence in their efforts to secure compensation for plaintiffs who suffered injuries which we believe are a result of Vioxx.
The resulting $4.85 billion resolution is a resolution which was hard-fought and portended risks for all parties. In light of significant costs and delay that would result in protracted litigation, the Settlement Program will ensure that those who suffered injuries as a result of Vioxx are compensated fairly and efficiently.
Details regarding the Settlement Program, including eligibility and qualification requirements, may be accessed by visiting www.BeasleyAllen.com
To help understand the settlement, we have created an online settlement calculator.
About Beasley Allen
Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, Beasley Allen is comprised of over 40 attorneys and 150 support staff. Beasley Allen is a national leader in civil litigation, having settled verdicts and settlements amounting to nearly $15 billion.
Andy Birchfield and Leigh O’Dell available for comment – 800.898.2034.