As was reported previously, on November 9, 2007, Merck agreed to pay $4.85 billion dollars to settle the claims of persons who suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking the pain reliever, Vioxx.
Individuals who suffered a heart attack or stroke while taking Vioxx and have a filed or tolled claim are eligible to participate in the Settlement Program. Those who have not previously filed a lawsuit or submitted their claim for tolling in the MDL court are not eligible to participate but are free to continue pursuing their claim through the court system. The reaction to the Settlement Program has been very positive. Lawyers and clients from around the country are already taking necessary steps to participate in the Program.
In conjunction with the settlement, the MDL court as well as the courts overseeing consolidated proceedings in New Jersey, California and Texas ordered that all claims relating to Vioxx be registered. The purpose of registration is to inform the courts and parties of the total number of Vioxx claims in the country.
In order for an eligible claimant to participate in the Program, his or her claim must be registered. The deadline for registering Vioxx claims is January 15, 2008. Though the deadline has not yet been reached, over 17,000 individual claims have been registered. This bodes very well as lawyers anticipate enrolling their eligible clients into the program by the February 29, 2008 deadline. Meeting both of these deadlines is important to the overall success of the settlement. The current progress toward meeting these deadlines is encouraging.
Another positive development is that the BrownGreer firm has been appointed as the Claims Administrator for the Settlement Program. BrownGreer, which was started by Orran Brown and Lynn Greer in 2002, has achieved a nationwide reputation for fairness and efficiency as they have administered other mass tort settlements, including settlements related to the Diet Drugs, Sulzer, and Dalkon Shield litigations. As Claims Administrator, BrownGreer is receiving registrations and will ultimately evaluate each claim that is submitted to the Program.
From the Plaintiffs’ perspective, a huge priority in the negotiating of the settlement was that each individual claim would be analyzed objectively and efficiently. BrownGreer has done a very good job of getting up and running quickly, and we anticipate they will do an excellent job in fulfilling their responsibilities in the future. For further information about the Settlement Program, visit www.officialvioxxsettlement.com.