NEW ORLEANS—An eight-member jury was seated today for the retrial of a federal lawsuit over whether Vioxx caused the death of a Florida man and if the pain killer’s manufacturer, Merck & Co., hid the drug’s dangers. 

Opening arguments were to begin this afternoon before the five-man, three woman jury. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon told jury pool members that at least six people are required for a federal civil trial, and he was seating eight for this one a retrial of the first federal civil trial of a Vioxx lawsuit, which ended with a hung jury.

Fallon has told attorneys not to talk to reporters.

The first federal trial was held in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Once again, jurors will be asked to decide whether Vioxx caused the death of Richard “Dicky” Irvin, who took the drug for about a month before suffering a fatal heart attack.

Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market in September 2004 after a study showed it doubled patients’ risk of heart attack and strokes after 18 months of use. The company contends that no risk has been proved for shorter periods; attorneys for Irvin’s widow, Evelyn Irvin Plunkett, say they can prove that wrong.

Around 9,650 Vioxx lawsuits have been filed against Merck. Aside from the hung jury, Merck has won one case and lost another. An additional case is going on in state court in Texas.

The court had sent out notices to 200 potential jurors. With 61 of them reporting to Fallon’s courtroom, all available jury pool seats were filled.

Those dismissed included a man who said he couldn’t give video testimony the same weight as testimony in person. “I don’t trust people to start with, and I’ve been told all my life, ‘Don’t trust anything you see on TV.’”

The question whether prescription drug companies do a good job of monitoring safety of drugs once they are on the market prompted a diatribe from one man. “They don’t care what happens once they’re on the market,” he said. “You can have a judgment here, one there. The company still makes billions of dollars. They don’t care.”

Merck shares were down 53 cents to $33.86 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

We're here to help!

We live by our creed of "helping those who need it most" and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.

Fields marked    may be required for submission.
  1. I'm an attorney

Merck to pay $830 million to settle investors’ Vioxx...

Merck announced Friday it will pay $830 million to settle investor complaints accusing it of committing...

Merck to pay nearly $1 billion for illegal marketing...

American pharmaceutical company Merck, Sharp & Dohme has agreed to pay $950 million to resolve criminal...

Merck paying more than 3,100 vioxx death claims

Merck & Co. is paying claims by the families of more than 3,100 users of its Vioxx painkiller who...

Settlement limits insurers' claims in Vioxx deal

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -- Former Vioxx users getting part of a $4.85 billion settlement ending most personal...

Persistence pays in Vioxx litigation

Plaintiffs get close to $5B, but Merck could have done a lot worse. Attorneys who spent nearly one year...

Vioxx settlement payments to begin in August

Merck & Co., manufacturer of Vioxx, announced it will make the first payment of $500 million on Aug....

Grateful and appreciative

You will never know how grateful and appreciative I am for all your efforts and achievements on my behalf. Your whole team is being remembered in my nightly prayers for your continued success in all your endeavors.