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Class Action Lawsuit Filed in Mississippi River Oil Spill

Two New Orleans residents have filed a class action lawsuit against the parties involved in last week’s Mississippi River oil spill. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, seeks to benefit all New Orleans residents adversely affected by last Wednesday’s oil spill. Under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), individuals and entities impacted by oil spills are entitled to compensation for property damage, loss of income and other damages from the parties responsible for the spill.

The Mississippi River oil spill class action lawsuit was filed by New Orleans residents Stephen Marshall Gabarick and Bernard Attridge. The plaintiffs are being represented by Louisiana attorneys Camilo K. Salas III and Daniel E. Becnel Jr., as well as Parker Waichman, LLP a law firm headquartered in Great Neck, N.Y (more…)

Vioxx Subject of Grand Jury Investigation

More Vioxx troubles for Merck. According to the Wall Street Journal, the health-care-fraud unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts is investigating whether Merck promoted Vioxx to health-care professionals for uses other than those approved by government regulators, a practice known as off-label marketing.

Vioxx was pulled off the market in 2004, after it was linked to an increase of risk suddden cardiac deaths, and thousands of oroduct liability lawsuits. In November 2007, Merck announced a proposed $4.85 billion settlement with thousands of Vioxx plaintiffs, and by a January 2008 deadline, 95 percent of those eligible had registered for the settlement. (more…)

Vioxx Plaintiffs in Florida Ask for Settlement Changes

Vioxx plaintiffs in Florida are trying to convince the federal judge overseeing the $4.85 billion Merck Vioxx settlement to let them in on the deal, even though they did not file Vioxx lawsuits by the settlement’s Nov. 7, 2007 deadline. Lawyers for about 300 Vioxx plaintiffs in Florida claim that the lawsuits were not filed by the November deadline because under Florida law, they had until September 2008 to sue Merck for their Vioxx injuries.

According to the Associated Press, the Florida lawyers representing these plaintiffs say they had an agreement to set up an “amicable, working relationship” with the plaintiffs’ steering committee “for the mutual benefit of their clients,” and had submitted a list of clients who had not yet filed suit. However, they said, they weren’t informed that a settlement was close, and therefore could not get their clients’ situation considered. (more…)

Vioxx Settlement All-or-Nothing Provision Prompts Some Lawyers to Seek Changes

The Vioxx settlement announced with great fanfare last month has not satisfied all Vioxx victims, and now their lawyers are asking a judge to change the terms of the proposed settlement so that they may be excluded from it.  As it stands now, the Vioxx settlement has a big string attached to it.  To take part, lawyers must agree to recommend the deal to all their clients — and withdraw from representing those who do not agree.  Understandably, this all-or-nothing provision is not sitting well with many Vioxx plaintiffs’ attorneys, who say such a stipulation makes it impossible to adequately represent all of their clients.

Vioxx was approved for use in 1999, and quickly became a blockbuster for Merck, with annual sales of $2.5 billion. The Food & Drug Administration ordered the painkiller off the market after an analysis of patients using Vioxx linked the defective drug to more than 27,000 heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths in the U.S. from 1999 through 2003.  Since then, tens of thousands of Vioxx victims have sued Merck.

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Vioxx Victims to Share $4.85 Billion under Settlement Agreement with Merck

Vioxx maker Merck will spend $4.85 billion to settle a significant number of lawsuits filed against it for injuries caused by the painkiller. Under the agreement, which was announced late yesterday, Merck will set up two separate settlement funds to cover heart attack and stroke claims filed over Vioxx. The development is a surprising one, considering that until very recently Merck had vowed to fight every one of the 27,000 cases filed against Vioxx individually.

In order to be eligible for the settlement, Vioxx claimants will have to enter into a resolution process. Merck will set up a $4 billion fund for people who claim they suffered heart attacks as a result of Vioxx, and another $850 million fund for those who suffered ischemic strokes. The settlements will be awarded on an individual bases, and the amount of money each plaintiff ultimately receives will vary. Merck said that at this time, it has not determined how many former Vioxx users might be covered by the agreement.

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