An Alabama judge has rejected defense attorny’s motion to dismiss a Vioxx case in which a state resident claims her husband died as a result of taking the popular painkiller.

On Friday, Clay County Circuit Judge John Rochester denied Merck & Co.’s dismissal request. The court’s ruling was no shock to plaintiffs atorneys, who argue the pill caused the Sept 4. 2001 death of Brad Rogers.

“The order was exactly as we expected,” said Jere Beasley, of the law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles PC which represents Cheryl Rogers of Talladega. The widow claims her husband died as a result of taking he prescription painkiller.

“Merck’s motion to dismiss lacked foundation, and they had to know it,” Beasley said. “It was a ploy to discredit our client, a grieving widow and single mother. We have always believed this case to be a strong one, and when the jury learns how truly bad Merck’s conduct has been , I am convinced they will want to punish the company.”

In his order Friday, Rochester noted that from the evidence presented thus ft, the court “does not know the truth” of the circumstances surrounding the death of Rogers.

“These circumstances remain questions of fact for the court to consider and for a jury to determine.

There will be a hearing in the Clay County courtroom Tuesday on a motion to postpone the case.

“We know from Brad Rogers’ medical records that he was prescribed Vioxx and that he was taking Vioxx,” Beasley added. “An autopsy proved that the drug caused his death. We will not have the opportunity to prove our case in the courtroom before Clay County, Ala., jury.”

Merck lawyers, however, dent the claim. They maintain the pills that Rogers widow claims causes her husband’s death were not on the market until six months after his death.

Mike Brock, of Rushton, Stakely, Johnston & Garrett, of Montgomery, the outside counsel to Merck in the Rogers case, issued a statement saying, “The Court’s order noted the existence of important questions, including questions about Mr. Rogers’ ingestion of Vioxx and the source of that Vioxx. Merck will present the evidence that has been uncovered to date to a jury and looks forward to that opportunity.

Merck, which is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., pulled Vioxx from the market last September after studies showed it caused elevated risk of strokes and heart attacks.

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