For immediate release
Montgomery, Alabama (May 31, 2007) – Judge Eldon E. Fallon, presiding judge over the federal Vioxx consolidated proceedings, In re Vioxx Products Liability Litigation MDL (No. 1657), ordered a new trial today in Evelyn Irvin Plunkett v. Merck & Co. Judge Fallon, a United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana, found that there was clear and convincing evidence that during the second trial of the Irvin case, Merck’s expert cardiologist, Dr. Barry Rayburn, misrepresented his qualifications to the Court and to the jury. Dr. Rayburn’s expert testimony was pivotal to Merck’s defense. The fact that Dr. Rayburn misrepresented his qualifications prevented the Plaintiff from fully cross-examining Dr. Rayburn and presenting her case to the jury.
The Irvin case was the first case tried in the Vioxx MDL. The first trial occurred in Houston, TX during November and December 2005 and ended in a mistrial due to a dead-locked jury. The second trial took place in New Orleans during February 2006 and concluded in a defense verdict. Plaintiff asked the Court for a third trial when she learned that Merck’s expert misrepresented his qualifications to the jury.
The Beasley Allen firm in Montgomery, Alabama represents Mrs. Plunkett and thousands of victims who have been injured as a result of Vioxx. Andy Birchfield, partner in the firm and co-lead counsel for the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the Vioxx MDL, said, "We believe Judge Fallon’s decision was correct under the law and should serve notice to Merck that proffering the opinion testimony of an expert who lies about his or her credentials is a very serious matter for which there are serious consequences. The Court’s decision to grant a new trial eliminates the unfair advantage gained by Merck through the duplicity of its expert. We are pleased for the Irvin family and consider it an honor as a firm to represent them in a third trial."
Richard Irvin Jr. began taking Vioxx for back pain on April 15, 2001. One month later he died of a heart attack. He was 53 years old. Mr. Irvin was the manager of a wholesale seafood business in St. Augustine, Fla., and he was in "very good health," according to his wife. According to Birchfield, "The death of Richard Irvin was a horrible loss to his family and the community. We look forward to proving that Merck’s drug Vioxx caused Mr. Irvin’s heart attack. Without warning patients, like Mr. Irvin, and their physicians, Merck continued to sell Vioxx, intentionally putting profits over the safety of innocent people."
About Beasley Allen
Headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, Beasley Allen is comprised of over 45 attorneys and 200 support staff. Beasley Allen is a national leader in civil litigation, having settled verdicts and settlements amounting to nearly $15 billion. Beasley Allen has been litigating Vioxx cases for more than five years since November 2001-three years before the drug was pulled off the market.